France says Syria 'must cooperate' with UN probe

21st October 2005, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, Oct 21 (AFP) - The European Commission urged Syria on Friday to cooperate fully with investigators trying to establish who killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri.

BRUSSELS, Oct 21 (AFP) - The European Commission urged Syria on Friday to cooperate fully with investigators trying to establish who killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri.

"Syria will harm its own interests if it does not cooperate fully with the investigation," the EU executive's spokeswoman on external affairs, Emma Udwin, told reporters in Brussels.

Her comments came after a UN report into the assassination concluded that senior Syrian security officials probably approved Hariri's murder.

The report, released on Thursday, cited "converging evidence" of Syrian and Lebanese involvement and accused Damascus of blocking and misleading the probe.

"It's crucial that all light be shed on this affair and we encourage all the parties concerned to back the Lebanese authorities in their work," Udwin said, adding that "the (EU) commission is concerned by what's going on".

In Paris, the French foreign ministry also called on Damascus to increase its cooperation with investigators.

"The (UN) report reveals the Syrian authorities' insufficient cooperation with the inquiry," said ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei.

"Syria must cooperate," he added.

"Now we have to look at all the implications of this report ... and we will consult with our partners on the (UN) Security Council on the possible next steps," Mattei said.

"On first reading, this report concludes that (Hariri's assassination) was a politically motivated crime, carried out in a very organised manner, and which could not have been achieved without the participation of state-controlled and para-statal organisations," the spokesman added.

Paris, along with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Lebanese government, wanted to see the UN commission's mandate extended to December 15, the spokesman said.

Asked whether, as a key supporter of Fuad Siniora's current Lebanese government, France would present an anti-Syria resolution to the Security Council, Mattei said only that the French UN representative "was thinking about possible draft resolutions".

France and the United States played a key role in the adoption of previous UN resolutions calling for a Syrian pullout from Lebanon and instructing Detlev Mehlis' UN commission of inquiry into the assassination.

As for conditions under which Paris and Washington would be ready to present a joint resolution, the spokesman said France "intended to continue cooperating closely with the United States" on the Syrian-Lebanese question, but that "it is not an exclusively US-French issue" and "we have other partners".

Hariri and 20 others were killed in a bomb blast in Beirut on February 14.

Syria, which pulled out its troops from Lebanon in April amid an international outcry over the assassination, has been bracing for possible international sanctions over the report.

Syrian official media has blamed Israel for the attack.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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