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UNSC Extends Mandate of Mission Probing Hariri's Murder

UN Security Council unanimously adopted on Thursday a resolution, extending and expanding the mandate of the commission probing the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In the resolution, the Council decided to extend the life of the commission for another six months until June 15, 2006, and expanded the commission's mandate "to include investigations on the terrorist attacks perpetrated in Lebanon since Oct. 1, 2004 at the discretion of the commission".

France, the United States and Britain had wanted to expand the work of the UN commission investigating the murder of Rafik Hariri to other politically motivated killings in Lebanon over the past year, if the inquiry team was able to do so.

But some council members urged caution, and a new text late on Wednesday authorized the commission to give "technical assistance" to Lebanon for attacks since October 1, 2004.

The measure also asks UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to recommend ways to broaden the commission's mandate to cover other attacks. The head of the UN team, German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, said the commission would need at least 50 additional staff in addition to the 93 now in place in Beirut.

All 15 council nations agreed to extend by another six months, until June 15, the investigation into the killing of Hariri and 22 others by a truck bomb in Beirut on February 14.

"It was felt you cannot just expand the mandate of the commission," Algeria's UN ambassador, Abdallah Baali, told reporters. "You need to study the resources to be added."

On Monday, a leading anti-Syrian journalist and lawmaker, Gebran Tueni, and three others were killed by a car bomb in a motorcade in a Christian suburb near Beirut. It was the third politically motivated attack since Hariri's death in February, costing a dozen lives.

US Ambassador John Bolton contended the commission could immediately help the Lebanese Government on the murder of leading anti-Syrian journalist and lawmaker Gebran Tueni, because "that crime scene is still viable."

"We'll be talking in capitals like Moscow and others to press our point of view," Bolton told reporters.

(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily December 16, 2005)

Security Council Mulls Action on Syria
Car Bomb Kills Lebanese MP
Syria Demands UN Report Revised after Witness Withdraw Testimony
Syria Opposes UN Bid for Beirut Queries
UN Investigators Interview Lebanese President
Syria Starts Questioning 6 Officials Named by UN Team
Syrian Judicial Committee Begins Probe into Hariri's Killing
Syrians Stage Rally to Protest UN Resolution
Assad Vows to Try Those Linked with Hariri Killing
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