UN calls for further Syrian cooperation

Monday, October 31, 2005

This Tuesday the fifteen-member United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling for Syria to cooperate fully with the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC). The Security Council demanded that Syria detain suspects indentified by the UNIIC until such time as they could be questioned. The resolution warns of "further action" if Syria fails to cooperate with the investigation.

Ministers from the United States, Britain, and France, were circulating a draft of the resolution with stronger wording on action in the event that Syria failed to cooperate. After the vote US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said: "With our decision today, we show that Syria has isolated itself from the international community through its false statements, its support for terrorism, its interference in the affairs of its neighbours and its destabilising behaviour in the Middle East."

Russia and China had signaled they opposed wording the resolution in a way that threatened sanctions. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, told the council, "The commission itself believes that the investigation is yet to be completed and there is no final conclusion. Under such circumstances it is inappropriate for the council to prejudge the outcome of the investigation and to threaten to impose sanctions."

The final wording was endorsed by all 15 members of the Security Council.

Syria had earlier rejected the findings of the UN investigation into the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

"It is a political statement against Syria based on allegations by witnesses known for their hostility to Syria," Mehdi Dakhlallah, Syria's information minister, told Aljazeera.