Bush administration backs broader probe into Hariri assassination

The &to=http://english.pravda.ru/war/2003/03/18/44603.html' target=_blank>Bush administration, intensifying pressure on Syria, on Wednesday endorsed Lebanon's call for a broader U.N. investigation into allegations of politically motivated assassinations of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and other critics of Syrian influence in the country.

The State Department also suggested the U.N. Security Council might consider tough sanctions on Syria if its resolutions designed to reverse its influence in Lebanon were disregarded.

"Then I would expect the Security Council would want to take a look at what further measure might be required and allowed," spokesman Sean McCormack said as a long and public U.S. campaign against Syria picked up speed.

A U.N. inquiry already has tentatively implicated senior Syrian officials in the assassination last February of Hariri, a dogged critic of Syria's influence in Lebanon.

Lebanese journalist and lawmaker Gibran Tueni, another critic of Syria who spent months in France fearing assassination, was killed in a car bombing Monday after returning home.

President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemned the slaying.

The Lebanese government, meanwhile, has requested the Security Council expand the U.N. investigation. "We certainly support the Lebanese government in making that request," McCormack said.

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