UN Security Council extends Hariri probe, demands Syrian cooperation
Syria-Lebanon-UN, Politics, 12/16/2005
The UN Security Council approved unanimously the extension of the mission of the UN investigation committee into the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri for another 6 months.
UN Security Council resolution number 1644 was adopted following controversial discussion after Russia, Algeria and China and other countries rejected certain "tough" tone words against Syria.
The resolution called for complete and unconditional Syrian cooperation with the UN committee after the success of Russia in weakening the tone of the original text of the resolution which accused Damascus of incomplete cooperation. The UN Security Council also called for giving "immediate and clear answers to questions the committee considered as still vague."
The resolution also allows the investigation committee to provide what it called technical aid to Lebanon in the investigation into the series of explosions and assassinations since 2004. The UN Security Council also recommended Kofi Annan to submit recommendations on how to expand the work of the committee so as to include these operations. This will be after consultations with the committee and the Lebanese government.
Commenting on that, the Algerian representative to the UN Abdullah Ba Ali said that there are practical problems that should be dealt with before expanding the authorization of the committee such as appointing more investigators and specifying operations to be dealt with by the investigations.
Despite alleviating the tone of the resolution, the American representative to the UN John Bolton commended it, considering that it signifies a strong signal to Damascus to show complete cooperation and unconditional. He added in statements "we explain to the Syrian government that they can not escape nor hide, the ultimate objective for this investigation is to reach the truth and bring any person involved to justice." The resolution crowned a series of discussions by the report of the chairman of the committee the UN ivestigator Detlev Mehlis in which he said that "new evidence reinforced the results" he had reached earlier that high ranking officials in the Syrian intelligence and their Lebanese allies were involved in the killing of Hariri.
Mehlis added in the course of highlighting his report before the UN Security Council on Tuesday that Syria had obstructed the investigation but improved its cooperation in the few past weeks and expressed his hope that this improvement will continue." Syria deliberately denied involvement in killing Hariri or being slow or reluctant in responding to requests by Mehlis who decided to quit his post.
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