US President Barack Obama has welcomed the indictment filed by the UN appointed special tribunal in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, saying it would be a step forward in ending the era of impunity for murder in the Arab nation.
"This action represents an important step toward ending the era of impunity for murder in Lebanon and achieving justice for the Lebanese people," Obama said in a statement after the prosecutor of tribunal filed the indictment on Monday.
"This is a significant and emotional time for the Lebanese people, and we join the international community in calling on all Lebanese leaders and factions to preserve calm and exercise restraint," he said.
Obama said that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon must be allowed to continue its work, free from interference and coercion. That is the way to advance the search for the truth, the cause of justice, and the future of Lebanon, he noted.
Although the contents of the indictment remain confidential, speculation was rife that it names Hezbollah in connection with the car bombing that killed Hariri in 2005.
"Those who have tried to manufacture a crisis and force a choice between justice or stability in Lebanon are offering a false choice, as the Lebanese people have a right to both justice and stability, and efforts to undercut the STL only legitimize its efforts and suggest its opponents have something to hide," he said, referring to Hezbollah which withdrew from the Lebanese cabinet with its allies last week.
"Any attempt to fuel tensions and instability, in Lebanon or in the region, will only undermine the very freedom and aspirations that the Lebanese people seek and that so many nations support. At this critical moment, all friends of Lebanon must stand with the people of Lebanon," Obama said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton termed it as an important step toward justice and ending impunity for murder.
"Those who oppose the Tribunal seek to create a false choice between justice and stability in Lebanon; we reject this," she said.
"We are confident that the Tribunal will continue to operate according to the highest standards of judicial independence and integrity. We call on all parties to promote calm and continue to respect the Tribunal as it carries out its duties in a professional and apolitical manner," she said.
Clinton said that the US and all friends of Lebanon stand together in support of its sovereignty and independence.
"While great progress has been made since this deadly attack in 2005, it will be impossible to achieve the peace and stability that the people of Lebanon deserve unless and until the era of impunity for political assassinations in Lebanon is brought to an end," she said.