President Bush says Syria is destabilizing Lebanon, and the United Nations must hold Damascus responsible for what he calls its continuing support for terrorism. Syria is criticizing a U.N. investigation into the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister as politically motivated.
President Bush wants the United Nations to take action against Syria, following a U.N. investigation implicating Syrian and Lebanese officials in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Mr. Bush says Syria is helping destabilize the region by backing Palestinian militants and allowing terrorists to cross into Iraq to join the insurgency against U.S. troops there.
"Syria is destabilizing Lebanon, permitting terrorists to use its territory to reach Iraq, and giving safe harbor to Palestinian terrorist groups," said Mr. Bush. "The United Nations has passed strong resolutions against terror. Now the United Nations must act, and Syria and its leaders must be held accountable for their continuing support for terrorism, including any involvement in the murder of Prime Minister Hariri."
The chief U.N. investigator into Mr. Hariri's murder wants Syria to show greater cooperation with his probe. German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis told the Security Council that Syria should conduct its own investigation in an open and transparent manner to help produce a clearer picture of last February's assassination.
The Mehlis report released last Thursday says senior Syrian security officials plotted to kill Mr. Hariri in collusion with some Lebanese officials. Once the overall probe is complete, Mr. Mehlis says it will be up to Lebanese authorities to determine the nature of any judicial action that might follow.
Syria's U.N. Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad says Mehlis report was influenced by opponents of Syria and every paragraph deserves a comment to refute its contents. Without identifying the Bush Administration by name, Ambassador Mekdad questioned what he calls the real objectives of those who are in such a hurry to adopt judgments that he says support their extremist positions.
U.S. and French officials expect to soon start circulating the text of a joint U.N. resolution backing-up the Mehlis investigation. It is unclear whether that will call for action against Syria or simply request its greater cooperation with the ongoing probe