Sarkozy wants tribunal for killers of Lebanon PM

23rd May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 23, 2007 (AFP) - France's new President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday he was determined to speed up efforts to set up an international court to try suspects in the murder of Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri two years ago.

PARIS, May 23, 2007 (AFP) - France's new President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday he was determined to speed up efforts to set up an international court to try suspects in the murder of Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri two years ago.

Hariri and 22 others were killed in a bomb blast in 2005, widely blamed on Syria, which denied any role in the slaying.

Speaking by telephone to Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora following the latest violence in Lebanon, Sarkozy "recalled his determination to continue joint efforts by the United Nations to set up an international tribunal," his spokesman said here.

"Events in Tripoli and the Beirut killings must prompt us to move more quickly and speed efforts already under way," Sarkozy was quoted as sayting.       A draft resolution has been put forward by the US, France and Britain to set up a court to hear the Hariri case.

Sarkozy also touched upon the latest upsurge of violence in Lebanon, where the army has been trying to dislodge an Al-Qaeda-inspired Sunni extremist group called Fatah al-Islam entrenched in a Palestinian refugee camp at Nahr al-Bared near Tripoli.

Two killings have also taken place in residential areas of Beirut.

Sarkozy said France would "always be at the side of Lebanon," his spokesman said.

"We must not give in to intimidation," Sarkozy was quoted as saying as he offered support and solidarity with the Lebanese government in its latest struggle.

"We must not give in to blackmail. It would be the wrong signal to those who seek the destabilisation of Lebanon to give in to their demands," Sarkozy said.    "Not to act would be tantamount to giving in to threat and intimidation."

Lebanon has been embroiled in political crisis linked to plans for an international court to try the alleged killers of Hariri.

Its pro-Syrian opposition has blocked parliamentary ratification of an agreement by the UN and the Western-backed Lebanese government to create the tribunal.

The opposition claims the Security Council would use the court for political ends.

Sarkozy's predecessor Jacques Chirac made major efforts in support of setting up a United Nations international tribunal.

The United States said Tuesday the fighting in Lebanon would not prevent a UN Security Council vote on setting up an international court to try suspects in the murder of Hariri.

At least 68 people have been killed and scores more wounded in three days of fighting between the Islamist extremists and Lebanese government troops.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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