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U.S. Supports Hariri Tribunal

The cabinet led by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has approved a United Nations plan for an international court to try the killers of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. Mr. Hariri was killed with twenty-two others in a car bombing in Beirut in February 2005.

A U-N inquiry into the assassination found probable cause to believe that Syrian security services were involved in the assassination. Mr. Hariri was an opponent of Syria's occupation of Lebanon, which ended in April 2005 after massive Lebanese protests and international pressure following the Hariri assassination.

Prior to the Lebanese cabinet's vote, six pro-Syrian Lebanese government ministers, including two from the extremist Hezbollah movement, resigned. Lebanon's pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan claiming that the cabinet's approval of the plans for an international tribunal were not binding. Prime Minister Siniora and his legal team dispute these claims.

Hezbollah and its allies are demanding that they be given a third of the seats in the twenty-four-member cabinet, enough to give them veto power over government decisions. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says that those behind Rafik Hariri's murder are trying block the creation of an international tribunal:

"It's very clear that there are some outside of Lebanon as well as inside Lebanon who don't want to see passage of this tribunal because either they themselves are worried that they may end up before such a tribunal or that their friends will end up before such a tribunal. And I think that that's really at the root of what you're seeing right now. You're seeing a political brewing crisis that has been brought about by the fact that some are very, very nervous, including in Damascus, about where this tribunal issue is going to head."

The United States, said Mr. McCormack, fully supports the creation of an international tribunal to bring those responsible for the murder of former Prime Minister Hariri to justice.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.