London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The UK was considering “a number of options” but would not be drawn into discussing sanctions against Syria to force it to cooperate with the UN investigation into the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw revealed on Tuesday at a joint press conference with Lebanese MP Saad Hariri at the Foreign Office in London.
Hariri pointed out his focus was solely on bringing his father’s killers and indicated that if the criminals who targeted his father and the whole of Lebanon were not apprehended, the Middle East would resemble a jungle. He revealed he was about to return to Lebanon "to be among the people who voted for me. It is a risk I am willing to take."
Describing the bombing that killed Hariri on February 14th, 2005 as a “barbaric and heinous crime”, Straw stressed the international community was adamant “the killers be brought to justice”. Commenting on Damascus’ reaction to the report which it denounced as politicized, he said, "I believe that our friends in the Arab region are capable as everybody else of reading the report. It is a very powerful document and it did not support the comments which the [Syrian] regime has been making". The Foreign Secretary added, “Our Arab allies are able to read the report themselves”.
Asked whether sanctions would be imposed against Syria, the Foreign Secretary said, “We are working very closely with our American, French friends and other partners on the Security Council. There is a very broad consensus and a clear understanding… the world can”t stand idly by” when one country is targeted by another. He pointed out a number of possibilities were being considered and reaffirmed "the international community was determined to ensure that those who committed this assassination are brought to justice, along with a determination to see at long last the Lebanese people being able to run their own affairs as a sovereign nation, within secure borders, protected from the interference of other states."
Responding to journalists” questions the visiting Lebanese MP reaffirmed his friendship towards Syria and its people and pointed out he only wanted to punish his father’s killers. “The report contained a lot of information and should be taken seriously”, he added.
On the possibility of holding discussions with the Syrian leadership, especially as Damascus announced its was ready to do so, the head of the Future bloc in Lebanon”s Parliament said, “We have no objections and hope good relations” will always prevail between the two countries, adding, “Cooperation needs to be with Mehlis and not with Saad Hariri.”
He added that the killing of Hariri was “a crime against the Lebanese people. He was a strong man who worked for Lebanon, Syria , and the region”, indicating “We are not calling for sanctions against Syria ”, especially as Lebanon has always been a peaceful country.
Hariri doubted the suspects could be tried in Lebanon and said, “Lebanon couldn’t investigate” the murder let alone hold a trial. He hoped, "an international tribunal would be set up”.