UN draft demands Syria arrests

“Syria must detain those Syrian officials or individuals whom the (UN enquiry) commission might consider as suspected of having been involved in this terrorist act, and make them fully and unconditionally available to the commission,” it added.

The draft was worked out by the US and French UN envoys, John Bolton and Jean-Marc de la Sabliere.

The Security Council earlier heard a briefing by UN chief investigator Detlev Mehlis on his damning report implicating senior Syrian and Lebanese security officials in last February’s slaying.

Call for sanctions

The draft also demanded that the Mehlis commission be allowed by Damascus “to interview Syrian officials or other individuals that the commission deems relevant to the enquiry outside Syria and/or outside the presence of any other Syrian official if the commission so requests.”

It also called for sanctions by all states against all individuals designated or who might be designated in the future by the panel as suspects in the murder.

The sanctions include a travel ban and a freeze of assets.

The draft also said Syria must stop meddling in Lebanese domestic affairs, directly or indirectly, refrain from any attempt aimed at destabilising Lebanon and respect its neighbor’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence.

The draft was to be submitted to other members of the UN Security Council.

“Our target is to get this resolution circulated probably late today here. We may not make that, but our hope is to get it around late this afternoon,” Mr Bolton said.

“We want substantive cooperation in the investigation from Syria, we want witnesses made available, we want documents produced, we want real cooperation, not simply the appearance of cooperation.”

Mr Bolton would not say whether the text would go beyond a demand for cooperation, saying: “the resolution will be very clear that the spotlight’s on Syria and that its obstructionism today cannot continue and that they have to cooperate.”

US pressure

Meanwhile US President George W Bush on called for UN action to punish Syria for its “continuing support for terrorism” as well as its alleged role in the Hariri slaying.

“Syria is destabilising Lebanon, permitting terrorists to use its territory to reach Iraq, and giving safe harbor to Palestinian terrorist groups,” Mr Bush said in a speech at Bolling Air Force Base here.

“State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror,” the US president said.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on a trip to Canada, said meanwhile that Washington wanted to send a “very strong message to Syria, first of all, that they should not, as they have so far, be dismissive of this Mehlis report.”

But Russian President Vladimir Putin urged “balanced action” from the world community toward Syria “so as not to allow new flashpoints of tension in the region.”

During a telephone conversation with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, Putin welcomed Syria’s stated readiness for “broad cooperation with the international commission investigating the circumstance of the murder” of Mr Hariri, the Kremlin press office said.

Damascus has denied any role in the murder and has rejected the probe’s findings as politically biased, incomplete and “a big lie.”

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