UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon added his backing to the work of a UN tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, in a meeting with his son, the current premier.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed new support for the tribunal in a meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri in New York on Friday. Growing tensions in his country have dominated Hariri’s talks on his trip.
Members of the Shiite group Hezbollah are to be named in indictments to be filed by the Special Tribunal on Lebanon, according to media reports. The indictments are expected to be filed within weeks despite a Hezbollah campaign against the tribunal’s work, according to diplomats.
“The secretary general reiterated his support for the work of the tribunal, and stressed that it is an independent body. He hoped its work would help end impunity in Lebanon,” Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said after the Ban-Hariri meeting.
“They had a cordial and constructive meeting. The Secretary-General commended the prime minister for his leadership of Lebanon at a critical time,” Nesirky said in a statement.
Ban and Hariri also “discussed regional and other efforts to promote stability,” the spokesman added.
Hezbollah has denied any involvement in Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination and has said the UN-backed tribunal is politicized. The younger Hariri has resisted Hezbollah demands that he renounce the investigation.
Ban and Hariri also discussed efforts to implement UN Security Council resolution 1701, passed in 2006 to end an Israeli military offensive into south Lebanon.
The resolution called for an end to Hezbollah attacks on Israel and for Israel to end its military operations. “The two discussed a number of aspects of Security Council Resolution 1701, including the need to end Israeli air violations,” said Nesirky.
“The secretary general stressed the importance of both parties working for the full implementation of the resolution, and the good work being done by UNIFIL. He took note of the Lebanese concerns on the maritime boundary issues.”
Hariri met Clinton in New York on Friday night.
Clinton “expressed very clearly her support for the Hariri tribunal,” a source who was at the meeting told AFP.
“Secretary Clinton expressed her strong support for the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon,” added the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Saudi monarch, King Abdullah, is staying in a hotel near Hariri’s and Clinton also met the king on Friday night.
Saudi Arabia and Syria have been attempting to mediate in the dispute between Hezbollah and Hariri’s government.
The Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel Al-Jubeir, also met Hariri on Friday.