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Tribunal 'may destroy Lebanon' over Hariri murder

Lebanon's government could collapse if a tribunal indicts Hizbollah members for the murder of a former premier, the Syrian president Bashar al Assad told an Arabic newspaper yesterday.

Lebanon's government could collapse if a tribunal indicts Hizbollah members for the murder of a former premier, the Syrian president Bashar al Assad told an Arabic language newspaper yesterday.

The UN is investigating the 2005 murder of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister and the father of Saad Hariri, the current premier.

"The political situation in Lebanon is not good - it is even troubling," Mr Assad told the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat in remarks published yesterday. "Any clash at any given moment … will destroy Lebanon".

After Hariri's killing, Saad Hariri accused Mr Assad of orchestrating the murder. But last month he said he was wrong to blame Syria for his father's killing.

The tribunal may issue indictments by the end of the year.

The interview was seen by many in Lebanon as an attempt to calm the tense political situation, which was exacerbated last week when the Syrian prime minister Naji al Otari said Mr Hariri's ruling coalition was as weak as a "house of cards". Other statements, made anonymously by Syrian officials, suggested that Mr Hariri should resign to spare the country more strife.

Mr Assad appeared willing to put that argument to rest, at least for now, by endorsing Mr Hariri as prime minister.



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