26 October 2005
U.S., France, U.K. Submit Resolution to Security Council on Syria
State Department's Bolton calls resolution strong clear signal to Syria
By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent
United Nations -- The United States, France and the United Kingdom have submitted to the U.N. Security Council a draft resolution requiring Syria to cooperate with the international commission investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
The five-page draft is a response to the report of the International Independent Investigation Commission, headed by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, which has implicated both Lebanese and Syrian high-ranking officials in the murder of Hariri and 20 others on February 14. The commission also said that Syria's failure to cooperate has hampered its work.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told journalists, "It is a strong resolution. We feel it's important to send a strong and clear signal to the government of Syria that its obstruction of the Mehlis commission to date is unacceptable." (See related article.)
If passed, the resolution would require all states to freeze the assets and ban entry or transit through their territories of suspects named by the commission.
The draft resolution calls for sanctions against individuals the Mehlis commission has indicated as suspects, but does not call for sanctions against the state of Syria.
The United Kingdom joined the United States and France in co-sponsoring the resolution and the three delegations presented their first draft to the other 12 council members October 25. Bolton said that consultations began immediately and will continue throughout the day October 26.
The co-sponsors expect the council will be able to vote on a final draft by October 31.
In the draft resolution, Syria is required to detain Syrian officials or individuals whom the commission suspects might be involved and "make them fully and unconditionally available" to the commission.
Syria also must allow the commission to interview Syrian officials or other individuals that the commission deems relevant to the inquiry outside of Syria and/or outside the presence of any other Syrian official, according to the draft resolution.
Bolton said that the list of Syrian officials who might be interviewed "absolutely includes" Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"No person is above the law, and the president has had time to talk to the media, to all of you ladies and gentlemen. And if he has time to do that, he has time to talk to Commissioner Mehlis," the ambassador said.
The draft resolution says that the council will "consider further measures" if Syria does not comply with the Security Council's demands. Possible measures include a range of economic sanctions and severance of diplomatic relations.
The draft resolution also says that "it is of the utmost importance to continue the trail both within and outside Lebanon in order to elucidate fully all aspects of this terrorist act, and in particular to identify and hold accountable all those who bear responsibility in its planning, sponsoring, organization and perpetration."
The draft resolution also states that the independent commission will continue its work until December 15, and commends the Lebanese authorities "for the courageous decisions they have already taken in relation to the inquiry."
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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