Thursday, January 05, 2006

It is 'showtime' for Syria - UK

BBC report 4 Jan 2006 - excerpt:

The current international pressure on Syria is "entirely deserved" and it is now "showtime" for its president, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says.

He said a Syrian official's claims that President Assad had threatened Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri before his murder were "very serious indeed."

Mr Straw was speaking to the BBC as he started a visit to Lebanon, which has been dominated for decades by Syria.

He said Lebanon was now at a very important crossroads for its future.

A UN investigation into Mr Hariri's death in a massive car bomb in Beirut in February 2005 has implicated Syria, which denies involvement.

On Monday, UN investigators announced they wanted to interview the Syrian president about the assassination. There has been no official response so far.

At the weekend, former Syrian Vice-President Abdul Halim Khaddam alleged President Bashar Assad had made threats to Mr Hariri months before his death.

Mr Assad has pledged to co-operate with the UN investigation, and has allowed some Syrian officials to be questioned.

The murder caused such outrage that Syria was forced to pull all its troops out of Lebanon.

"The pressure on the Syrian regime now is much stronger now than it's been for decades," Mr Straw said.


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