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Syria furious as US warns of new UN action

Syria risks further UN Security Council action unless it steps up cooperation with the probe into the murder Hariri.

world Updated: Jan 15, 2006 08:46 IST

Syria risks further UN Security Council action unless it steps up cooperation with the probe into the murder of ex-Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri, a US envoy warned on Saturday, sparking a furious reaction from Damascus.

"Syria must cease obstructing the investigation into the assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and must cooperate unconditionally" with the UN probe, said David Welch, the US pointman for the Middle East.

"The United States calls upon the Syrian regime to respond positively to the requests... If Syrian obstruction continues we will not hesitate to refer this matter back to the Security Council."

The UN commission of inquiry probing the murder of Hariri in a February 14 Beirut bomb blast and the United States have repeatedly demanded Syria steps up its cooperation.

The probe asked to interview President Bashar al-Assad but no response has been forthcoming.

Last month, the UN Security Council passed a resolution endorsing a six-month extension of the murder probe and renewing its call for Syria's full cooperation with the investigation.

The resolution also authorised technical assistance to Lebanon to help authorities probe recent murders of anti-Syrian politicians.

"The declarations of Mr Welch are a new attempt aimed at increasing the morale of anti-Syrian forces who are opposed to the stability of Lebanon," said a Syrian official, quoted by the state news agency Sana.

First Published: Jan 15, 2006 08:46 IST