US President Barack Obama on Sunday marked the upcoming sixth anniversary of the assassination of Lebanese ex-Premier Rafik Hariri by reaffirming his support for a UN-backed probe into the slaying.
For the past two years, a bitter political battle has revolved around the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), a controversial UN-backed court expected to implicate members of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in the Hariri murder.
Hariri and 22 other victims killed in a car bombing February 14, 2005.
"Any attempt to interfere with the tribunal's work or fuel tensions within Lebanon must not be tolerated," Obama said in a statement, adding that the court will "find the truth behind that outrageous act of terrorism."
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the next Lebanese government to honor its obligations to the tribunal.
"Those who would try to block Lebanon's cooperation should desist and show a measure of human decency," she said in a statement. "Ultimately, without justice, there can be no peace and stability for Lebanon."
Marking 5th anniversary of Hariri murder, last year (Photo: AFP)
Outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of the slain five-time premier, enjoyed Western political support but his government was toppled last month in a feud over the tribunal.
Hezbollah and its allies on January 12 withdrew their ministers from the unity government, forcing its collapse, and tapped Sunni billionaire Najib Mikati to head the next government.
The militant party had been pressing Hariri to disavow the tribunal, which it worries will implicate Hezbollah members.
"At this critical moment, we call on all friends of Lebanon to stand with the people of Lebanon, who must be free to determine their own destiny," Obama said.
"And those Lebanese who forge their future in a spirit of peace and reconciliation will continue to have a strong partner in the United States," he added.
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