Chirac urges Syria to meet demands of Hariri probe

PARIS (AFP) — Syria needs to comply with the demands of the UN probe into the murder of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, French President Jacques Chirac warned on Wednesday.
“Syria must answer the demands” of the international inquiry into Hariri’s killing, the president was quoted by a spokesman as saying during talks with his visiting Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak.

Chirac, a personal friend of the murdered leader, stressed “France’s determination that the United Nations commission be able to fully carry out its mission,” spokesman Jerome Bonnafont told reporters.

Mubarak’s visit to Paris followed a lightning trip to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, during which he discussed the Syrian crisis with King Abdullah, according to Egyptian diplomats.

The UN probe into Hariri’s murder in February has already implicated Lebanese and Syrian officials, and UN officials have requested interviews with both President Bashar Assad and Foreign Minister Farouk Sharaa.

Former Syrian vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam, who is now based in Paris, charged last week that Assad had threatened Hariri just a few months before the assassination.

The French president earlier Wednesday described Syria’s situation as “very serious.”

“Everything that destabilises Lebanon will end up turning back against Syria,” he warned, speaking on the sidelines of a new year’s press conference.

Hariri’s killing in a car bombing in Beirut triggered a wave of protests which led to the end of Syria’s 29-year presence in Lebanon in April.

France, the United States and Britain co-sponsored UN Resolution 1636 adopted on Oct. 31, which calls for Syria’s full cooperation with the inquiry into the murder.

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