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US, France threaten economic sanctions against Syria over Hariri probe

[JURIST] The United States and France circulated a draft UN resolution Tuesday that demands that Syria fully cooperate with a UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive] and threatens economic sanctions should Damascus not cooperate. The UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC), authorized [UN SC resolution; JURIST report] by the UN Security Council to investigate the murder after Lebanon's investigation was found to be "seriously flawed," submitted its interim report [text; JURIST report] last week. The report implicates both Syrian and Lebanese security officials in the assassination. The new draft Security Council resolution would call on Syria to detain possible suspects and make them available to UN investigators. In anticipation of international pressure, Syrian President Bashar Assad sent a letter to the US, Britain and France Sunday promising that "any Syrian who could be proved by concrete evidence to have had connection with this crime" will be brought to trial [Washington Post report]. Assad's letter also denied that Syria had any involvement in the Hariri killing, an assertion repeated [JURIST report] Tuesday by Syria's ambassador to the UN. UNIIIC head Detlev Mehlis told the Security Council [UN press release] Tuesday that Syrian authorities were cooperating to a limited degree with the commission, but that several people interviewed provided false or inaccurate statements and that a letter to the UNIIIC from Syria's foreign minister contained false information. Mehlis also said that several credible threats have been made against the UNIIIC [UN News report] and called for safety and security of the commission's members be made a top priority as the UNIIIC finishes its work. Reuters has more.

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