UN Security Council 'split on how to handle Syria'

25th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, Oct 25 (AFP) - While the US and France are seeking a resolution to pressure Syria to cooperate with an investigation into the murder of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri, other members are asking for more time, The Washington Post said Tuesday.

WASHINGTON, Oct 25 (AFP) - While the US and France are seeking a resolution to pressure Syria to cooperate with an investigation into the murder of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri, other members are asking for more time, The Washington Post said Tuesday.

Algeria, China and Russia believe it is premature to consider punishing Damascus before chief investigator Detlev Mehlis concludes his probe on December 15, officials from the US, UN and Europe told the daily.

Mehlis, who led the four-month UN probe into the murder, was to outline on Wednesday the findings of the damning report he released last Thursday, which named senior Syrian security officials as suspects in the massive bomb blast that killed Hariri and 20 others in Beirut last February.

The 15-member Security Council was pursuing frantic negotiations to agree on a draft resolution that would demand immediate and full cooperation from Damascus with the UN probe.

Damascus has denied any role in the murder and has rejected the probe's findings as politically biased, incomplete and "a big lie."

UN chief Kofi Annan, who has extended the mandate of the Mehlis enquiry commission until December 15 to enable it to complete its work, said the report marked "the beginning of the process, not the end."

The United States and France were seeking a ministerial-level meeting of the Security Council on Monday of next week to consider a resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which empowers the council to impose sanctions and possibly military force to compel cooperation.

"I think we have to be very careful with Chapter 7," China's UN ambassador Guangya Wang was quoted as saying in The Washington Post. "Chapter 7 is the dog that will bite, not just bark."

Algeria's ambassador, Abdallah Baali, also said it was premature to consider sanctions against Damascus or even assign blame before those responsible for Hariri's assassination are brought to justice.

In an attempt to close the gap with Russia, which is also balking at a tough resolution, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice talked by telephone at the weekend with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the newspaper said.

China and Russia, along with the United States, France and Britain are veto-wielding members of the Security Council. Algeria is the only Arab nation among the 10 current rotating members, who have no power of veto.

UN diplomats said no agreement had yet been reached on a firm date for this ministerial session sought next week as Washington, Paris and London spearheaded the push for action against Syria.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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