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Jordan advises all Lebanese to cooperate with UN probe

Daily Star staff
Monday, January 23, 2006

Jordan advises all Lebanese to cooperate with UN probe

BEIRUT: Jordan's king advised the visiting Lebanese prime minister on Sunday that all parties should cooperate with an ongoing UN investigation into a Beirut assassination last year, the official Petra news agency reported. King Abdullah II's remarks come as a new head of the UN commission into the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri began work in Lebanon. Syria, already implicated in the probe, has been accused of not cooperating.

Abdullah expressed to Prime Minister Fouad Siniora "his desire to see differences over the Hariri investigation resolved through negotiations," Petra said.

He stressed the "importance of cooperation between all concerned parties with the UN investigators."

The probe has implicated Syrian security officials in Hariri's assassination last February in Beirut but Damascus has denied any involvement. UN investigators have pressed to interview Syrian President Bashar Assad and his foreign minister, Farouk al-Sharaa, but the president has indicated in a speech made Saturday his rejection of the requests.

The issue has further strained relations between Lebanon and Syria, and between Syria and the West, and a number of Arab leaders have sought to mediate.

But, Siniora clarified from Amman that Jordan was not mediating between Syria and Lebanon. Last week, many Lebanese politicians, notably MP Walid Jumblatt and MP General Michel Aoun had criticized a Saudi initiative to defuse tensions between Beirut and Damascus.

The tension between both countries is also amplified by Lebanon's demand that Syria demarcate its borders in the

Shebaa Farms, an issue that was discussed Sunday between Abdullah and Siniora.

Siniora said: "This demarcation of borders is a national operation and every piece of Arab land that is liberated from the Israeli occupation is an Arab victory and Lebanese victory."

He added: "Consequently, this demarcation operation is  nationalistic one because every inch of the Arab territories liberated from Israeli occupation is beneficial for the Arabs and for Lebanon."

Siniora was met by al-Bakhit at Amman's Marka Military Airport and went straight to talks with the Jordanian monarch.

In his one-day visit, Siniora  is also expected to sign several trade, cultural and educational agreements to bolster relations between the two countries.

At noon, Siniora presided over the Lebanese delegation in talks with the Jordanian delegation led by al-Bakhit within the framework of the Joint Lebanese-Jordanian Higher Committee.

Upon his arrival to the Prime Minister's headquarters, Siniora was asked about his meeting with King Abdullah II.

He said: "It was a positive opportunity to meet with His Royal Highness and we debated a number of issues pertaining to relations between Lebanon and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan."

"We also tackled issues that concern the citizens of Jordan and Lebanon and Arab issues that concern us in this phase."

Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri met on Sunday with the new head of the international investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Serge Brammertz.

He also met with Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Margherita Boniver to discuss the disappearance of Imam Musa Sadr, who went missing nearly thirty years ago.

Brammertz later met with President Emile Lahoud, who said he will provide him with all necessary assistance to facilitate the work of the committee.

Brammertz said he will deploy all possible efforts to reveal the truth behind Hariri's assassination. - The Daily Star

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