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Syria questions Hariri probe credibility

LONDON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Syria questioned the credibility of the U.N. inquiry into Rafik Hariri's slaying after a witness said he fed it false information.

Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdullah Dardari said Friday it is up to the U.N. Security Council to debate inquiry chief Detlev Mehlis' report and evaluate its credibility since it was based on false information provided by Syrian witness Hassam Taher Hassam.

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"We have a lot of matters which we can raise about the international inquiry, such as the place, measures and methods of interrogation as well as evidence and witnesses and political inferences based on hear say," Dardari told United Press International in an interview at the end of a visit to London.

Hassam appeared on Syrian television earlier this week to say he fed the U.N. team investigating the former Lebanese prime minister's assassination with false information implicating Syrian officials.

Dardari also lauded Syrian diplomacy for changing the venue of the U.N. interviews with suspects from Lebanon to Vienna.

He said it was "logical" that international pressure on Syria should diminish following its cooperation with the investigation, but "we know that the U.S. agenda in pressuring Syria has nothing to do with Hariri's assassination, that is why I don't think the pressures will ease."

He added: "But U.S. pretexts will weaken after the revelation of the truth."

He noted Syria's economy was strong enough to withstand economic pressure for a relatively long period.

U.N. Resolution 1636, passed last October, called on Syria to cooperate fully with the international inquiry or face possible "further action," in an apparent reference to economic sanctions.

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