US, France call for resolution on Syria

<ST1:CITY w:st="on">The US and France have said they are trying to mobilise support for a UN resolution demanding Syria's full cooperation with the investigation into the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. </ST1:CITY>

    John Bolton said the US wanted immediate cooperation

    "We will certainly insist on Syrian cooperation," US Ambassador John Bolton said on Monday.

    "This is true confessions time now for the government of Syria. No more obstruction. No more half measures. We want substantive cooperation and we want it immediately."

    French Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said the council must use "its weight" to discover "the whole truth" after last week's report by UN investigator Detlev Mehlis that found evidence of Syrian involvement in al-Hariri's assassination and a lack of cooperation from Damascus.

    Trip cancelled

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he planned to raise the issue of cooperation wth Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa, who he said had asked to meet him on Tuesday and was flying to New York.

    But shortly afterwards, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced that Syria's UN mission had informed the UN al-Sharaa would not be coming.

    Annan's meeting with Farouk
    al-Sharaa will not take place 

    Al-Sharaa was accused in the Mehlis report of lying in a
    letter to the investigating commission.

    Mehlis is to brief the UN Security Council on the report at an open meeting on Tuesday.

    Al-Hariri and 22 others were killed when his motorcade was blown up on 14 February in downtown Beirut.

    The US and France, who worked together on last year's resolution demanding the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, said they were consulting other council members on the report and the elements a new resolution would include.

    De La Sabliere sidestepped a question on whether a new resolution would go beyond demanding Syrian cooperation to threatening further measures, which could include sanctions.

    "What is important is to have an effective action of the council and we are working on it," he said.

    Others reticent

    While the US, France and Britain have strongly supported Mehlis' findings and demand for Syrian cooperation, Russia and China, which also have veto power on the Security Council, have been more reticent.

    "My government is always very cautious with such
    sensitive issues as Syria-Lebanon," Russia's UN Ambassador Andrey Denisov said on Monday.

    Mehlis will brief the Security
    Council on the report

    China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya said: "We are still studying the report, so I don't want to make any comments now. It needs careful study."

    Earlier on Monday, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the investigation should be completed.

    "There is no divergence, there is simply a strong affirmation on the part of France that we have an opportunity to render justice with an independent commission of inquiry," he said.

    "Let us allow that commission to run its full course."

     

    "France wants the Security Council to begin its work and allow us to reach an agreement rapidly on the text of a resolution, which we hope can be adopted unanimously," Douste-Blazy said, without elaborating on what the content of such a

    resolution should be.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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