Syria seeks talks with UN investigator

Syria has invited the chief UN investigator into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri for talks on coordinating his probe with Syria's own newly appointed investigation.

    Syria has rejected the findings of the UN investigation

    The invite came in a letter from  Prosecutor-General Ghada Murad, who heads the Syrian probe into the al-Hariri killing, the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on Wednesday.

     

    In her invitation to United Nations' investigator Detlev Mehlis, SANA said Murad had asked him to come to Damascus “to search for the best means and mechanisms of cooperating between the two commissions.”

     

    It continued: "The [Syrian] commission highly appreciates your mission and is keen to unveil the full truth, and expresses its readiness to cooperate and coordinate fully with you," according to the SANA report.

     

    The report did not mention the UN commission's request to interview six Syrian government officials, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may answer this point in a speech that he is scheduled to give to the nation on Thursday.

     

    Last week, the UN Security Council demanded that Syria cooperate fully with the Mehlis commission, and warned it of further action if it failed to do so.

     

    Complicity

     

    The council's resolution followed an interim report by the commission which found that al-Hariri's killing by a massive truck bomb in Beirut on 14 February could not have been carried out without the complicity of Syrian and Lebanese intelligence.

     

    Al-Assad is to address his
    country on Thursday

    The report also accused Syria of providing only limited cooperation to the commission.

     

    Syria has rejected the report's findings, but has said it will cooperate with the commission. It also took up the report's suggestion of appointing its own investigation, which is headed by Murad.

     

    On Wednesday Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa held discussions with Syrian leaders in Damascus over differences with the UN Security Council on the al-Hariri probe.

     

    Asked how Syria would respond to the UN commission's request to interview its six officials, Moussa said: "This issue should be dealt with between Syria and Mehlis, or between the United Nations and Syria. Consultations are under way now."

     

    Unconfirmed reports say the six officials include Gen. Assef Shawkat, the president's brother-in-law and chief of Syria's military intelligence service.

    SOURCE: AFP


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