US wants action against Syria in Lebanese killing
Fri Oct 21, 2005 5:49 PM ET167
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. President George W.
Bush called on the United Nations on Friday to quickly
meet and consider a response to an investigation that
implicated Syrian officials in the assassination of
former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.
Hariri and 20 others were killed on February 14 by a
bomb in Beirut. A U.N. report said the decision to
kill Hariri "could not have been taken without the
approval of top-ranked Syrian security officials"
colluding with counterparts in Lebanon.
Syrian officials in Damascus, Washington and at the
United Nations dismissed the report as political and
said the charges were false.
"The report is deeply disturbing," Bush said, adding
that he had asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
to request that the United Nations "convene a session
as quickly as possible" to discuss the report.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Security
Council members would consider sanctions but he did
not elaborate on how much support such a proposal
A council session has already been planned for
Tuesday. It may ask for Syria to cooperate with the
U.N. investigation led by German prosecutor Detlev
Mehlis, who released a 53-page report late on
Thursday. But it is uncertain whether Bush was seeking
a larger, higher-level session.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan extended the Mehlis
investigation for three months, which suggests no
strong action is expected until the probe ends on
U.S. ambassador John Bolton said the first order of
business was to make sure Syria cooperated with the
probe, which faulted Damascus for giving false
"In the absence of serious Syrian cooperation on
substantive matters, the mission can't get to the
ultimate truth," Bolton told reporters in New York.
"That is what is seems to me the focus the U.N.
Security Council should be."
The Bush administration has been at odds with Syria
for quite some time, accusing Damascus of doing too
little to stop foreign fighters from entering
neighboring Iraq. Syria, in turn, says the United
States has not done enough to secure the border or
deliver technical help it has promised.
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