Rice advises Syria to cooperate with U.N. probe into Lebanese PM killing

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that Syria must fully cooperate with a U.N. investigation into the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, but she warned against trying to speculate on the probe's findings.

Speaking at a joint press conference with her French counterpart Philippe Douste-Blazy, Rice said that chief investigator Detlev Mehlis was "rightly" keeping his findings to himself until they are presented to the United Nations.

"I don't think it helps to get out ahead of the Mehlis report and try to prejudge what the Mehlis report will say," she said.

France and the United States cooperated last year on a U.N. resolution, 1559, calling on Syria to pull troops and intelligence agents out of Lebanon.

Although Syrian troops did depart during a spring of political upheaval in Lebanon, the United States and its allies say there is no doubt Syria is still trying to influence politics under a newly elected government.

"What is very clear is that the international community is demanding of Syria that it fully implement 1559 and that it not engage in activities that destabilize its Lebanese neighbor," said Rice.

She said she and French leaders had talked "about making sure that there is full cooperation from Syria for the Mehlis investigation."

Many Lebanese believe Syria played a role in Hariri's killing.

Douste-Blazy cautioned against "politicizing" the probe.

"This is not a political affair, it is a judicial affair, a criminal probe which must run its course," he said. "We trust him (Mehlis) entirely so that the report ordered by the United Nations can go to the Security Council and we can draw the consequences from it."


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