Walid Muallim said there was "no reason for the Security Council to take measures against Syria", despite an interim report implicating Syrian officials in al-Hariri's killing in a 14 February bomb blast.

"Syria has fully cooperated with the international commission of enquiry ... to cut the road to those who would try to use this inquiry to political ends against Syria and the region," Muallim told journalists outside Damascus.

"Nothing could justify Security Council measures against Syria," he said, adding: "Syria is innocent of this crime."

The interim report criticised Damascus for failing to cooperate fully with the investigation, leading to a unanimous Security Council resolution in October calling on Syria to completely cooperate.

Inquiry chief Detlev Mehlis, whose mandate expires on Thursday, is to
deliver his final report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Sunday, and the Security Council is to officially discuss it on Tuesday.

 

Lebanon has asked for a six-month extension to the investigation's mandate, which the UN is due to consider.


Cautious

Speaking to Aljazeera from New York, Faisal Miqdad, the Syrian permanent representative to the United Nations, said Syrians were cautious about the contents of the report.

 

"We actually wish that this report would reflect that Syria fully cooperated following the approval of the UN Security Council resolutions"

Faisal Miqdad,
Syria's ambassador at the UN

"We actually wish that this report would reflect that Syria fully cooperated following the approval of the UN Security Council resolutions.

 

"Examples of this cooperation are the formation of a Syrian judicial committee, an agreement with the international probe committee to interrogate Syrian officials in Vienna and giving Mehlis and his committee full cooperation," he said.

 

Honesty of interrogations
 

Miqdad questioned the integrity of the interrogations used during the investigation, which implicated high-ranking Syrian officials.

 

"The first witness al-Siddiq, now held in Paris, confessed that his testimony was incorrect.

 

"The second witness, Hussam Hussam, said he was held and tortured in Beirut and was offered a bribe to testify against Syria."

 

Miqdad urged the interrogation of Lebanese officials in the assassination.

 

"We want Mehlis to deal with these issues professionally, taking into consideration that Syria has fully cooperated in accordance to UN Security Council resolutions."