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Syria Denies Receiving Request to Interview Syrians on Hariri Case

Syria denied on Sunday that it had received a request from the UN investigators to interview Syrians on the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, but pledged to cooperate on the probe.

"Syria did not receive any request on this regard," Bashali Kanfani, Director of the Foreign Media Department of the Foreign Ministry, told Xinhua via telephone.

Some media reports said that chief UN investigator Detlev Mehlis made a request to Damascus via the United Nations to question Syrian officers, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat.

In response, Kanfani denied the reports, but told Xinhua via telephone that Syria would consider and deal with possible proposals over the investigation proceedings Mehlis might make. "Syria will allow the UN investigators to question any Syrians they want to, including those they have questioned," she said, adding that Mehlis would receive cooperation from the special judicial committee on the case.

An interim report presented by Mehlis on Oct. 20 implicated Syrian and Lebanese officials in the killing of Hariri in a car bomb blast in Beirut on Feb. 14.

Syria has denied any involvement and dismissed the report as politically motivated.

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a West-sponsored resolution on Monday, demanding full Syrian cooperation with the UN investigation or face possible "further action".

(Xinhua News Agency November 7, 2005)

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