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    » 02/17/2005, 00.00

    LEBANON - USA - SYRIA

    After Hariri's death, US official invites Patriarch Sfeir to the US



    US Assistant Secretary meets Maronite Patriarch and reiterates threat of sanctions against Syria if Damascus does not respect UN resolution.

    Beirut (AsiaNews) – US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns met yesterday evening Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir in the wake of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination. The meeting took place in the Patriarch's residence in Bkerke and lasted 45 minutes.

    Sources close to the Patriarch told AsiaNews that His Beatitude might travel to the United States to meet high level US government officials.

    Rafik Hariri died in a bomb attack on Monday that also killed another 15 people, including former Trade Minister Basel Flaihan, an Anglican deputy in Lebanon's parliament.

    After the meeting, Mr Burns reiterated US support for the immediate application of UN resolution 1559, which calls for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. Mr Burns said that the US might impose new sanctions on Syria if Damascus did not respect the UN resolution.

    He said that he and Patriarch Sfeir discussed the need "to shed light on who was responsible" for the former Prime Minister's assassination.

    Yesterday morning an estimated 800,000 people took part in Mr Hariri's funeral. Members of Lebanon's current government were absent.

    Arab League General Secretary Amro Moussa, Syria's Vice President Abdulhalim Khaddam, representatives from the UN, Arab countries and Europe attended the ceremony.

    French President Jacques Chirac spent six hours at the Hariri residence with Mr Hariri's widow, Bernadette. He later visited the tomb of "his great friend" in downtown Beirut, but did not meet any official from the Lebanese government.

    France backs the UN resolution calling for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

    Interior Minister Sleiman Franjiyeh led a delegation of northern Lebanese deputies to Kraitem, Hariri's residence. He conveyed his personal condolences to the family and expressed the "firm intention" of the Lebanese government to uncover the facts and bring to justice the culprits in Hariri's murder.

    He emphasised how the death of the former Prime Minister has led to the loss of esteem and support for the government in the Sunni community.

    Mr Franjiyeh said he had confidence in Lebanon's judiciary to unravel the case. The investigating Military Tribunal is seeking the help of Swiss experts. (YH)

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    See also

    31/03/2005 SYRIA - LEBANON
    Assad pledges pullout from Lebanon and reforms in 2005


    16/05/2006 LEBANON
    A new UN resolution is unfortunately necessary, says Sfeir
    Issues such Hizbollah's disarmament and Syro-Lebanese borders and diplomatic relations are still unresolved. The country and its Christian leaders are split into two camps. In light of Benedict XVI'S intuition, a dialogue with Islam is possible but only at a human and social level, not in terms of doctrine.

    19/05/2006 SYRIA – IRAN – LEBANON
    Tehran backs Damascus against new UN Resolution
    Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki visits Damascus, calls Resolution 1680 "a novelty and a violation of international law". For Lebanon's government, the "resolution is good". For Patriarch Sfeir the UN decision is "something good that Lebanon was waiting for some time."

    05/05/2008 LEBANON
    Sfeir to talk about Lebanese crisis with Ban Ki-moon and George Bush
    Maronite patriarch will meet emir of Qatar today; tomorrow he will travel to South Africa. Before leaving he talked about the possibility of a UN intervention “if the Lebanese are unable to re-establish security and the sovereignty of the state”.

    16/02/2005 LEBANON - SYRIA
    A freedom-crushing regime behind Hariri's assassination, Lebanese Bishops say
    Former PM Hariri, who was killed in a terrorist attack, was laid to rest today in a private ceremony after the family refused a state funeral.



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