Sat, Dec 17, 2005 - Page 7 News List

UN extends Hariri probe, slams recalcitrant Syria


The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Thursday to prolong by six months the UN investigation of the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, and it cited Syria for not providing the inquiry "full and unconditional cooperation."

The measure also authorized the inquiry to give technical assistance to Lebanese officials investigating 14 assassinations, attempted murders and bombings since Oct. 1 last year, including the car-bomb killing on Monday of Gebran Tueni, a prominent journalist and member of parliament known for his anti-Syrian views.

Negotiated up until moments before the vote to meet objections raised by Algeria, China and Russia, the final draft dropped language accusing Syria of deliberately hindering the investigation and of delaying examination of the role of high-ranking officials.

But it demanded that Syria respond "unambiguously and immediately" to requests from the investigators, and it kept a reference to Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which empowers the Council to consider penalties in the future.

A resolution passed on Oct. 31 had threatened Syria with unspecified "further action" if it continued to obstruct the investigation.

US ambassador John Bolton said that the sponsors of the measure had agreed to modifications in the interests of obtaining unanimity, and that none of the changes crossed the sponsors' "red lines." The resolution was initiated by France and co-sponsored by the UK and US.

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