UN-Syria: Cooperation demanded 11-01-2005 11:53

The foreign ministers of the member countries part of the United Nations Security Council have passed a tough resolution, demanding Syria fully cooperate with the UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

All foreign ministers adopted the resolution. But it was watered down to get unanimous support, after last-minute consultations.

Initially, the co-sponsors, the US, France and Britain, had called for possible economic sanctions if Syria didn't cooperate with the investigation.

But China and Russia objected strongly to the mention of sanctions, while the probe is still underway.

Li Zhaoxing, Chinese Foreign Minister, said, "The Mehlis report is still a preliminary report and the commission itself also believes that the investigation is yet to be completed and there is no final conclusion. Under such circumstances, it is inappropriate for the council to prejudge the outcome of the investigation and to threaten to impose sanctions. It does not help with the settlement of this issue and it would add new destabilizing factors."

The final text of resolution requires Syria to detain anyone the UN investigators consider a suspect and freeze their assets, while imposing a travel ban on suspected individuals.

It also says that if Syria doesn't cooperate the council, further action can be considered if necessary.

Following the resolution, the Syrian Foreign Minister, Farouk al-Sharaa, claimed the UN Security Council was accusing Syria of committing a crime without producing any evidence.

Meanwhile, Lebanon was also closely watching the UN Security Council on Monday. The resolution is expected to be welcomed by supporters of the assassinated leader. But it's also sparked criticism from Lebanon's labor minister.

Tarrad Hamadeh, Minister of Labor, said, "This clear threat to Syria lacks real political legitimacy and therefore, we found in this session that there is a clear domination from the United States of America of the United Nations in particular, and unfortunately of the Security Council, which should respect international security and stability."

Last week, a report by a UN investigating commission implicated top Syrian and Lebanese security officials in Hariri's assignation. It also accused Syria of not cooperating fully with the probe.

Hariri was killed in a bombing on February 14th, along with 20 others.

Editor:Chen Zhuo

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