No side deal on STL, Lebanon claims

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Reports that Saudi Arabia and Syria had persuaded Lebanese leaders to reject an assassination tribunal's findings are baseless, a lawmaker said.

Lebanon is bracing for indictments from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.


Ammar Houri, a lawmaker in Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's March 14 coalition, told Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper there was nothing to support reports of a deal brokered by Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Media reports circulated that Riyadh and Damascus persuaded Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the son of Rafik Hariri, to reject any indictment from the STL.

"The agreement being worked out by Saudi Arabia and Syria revolves around one major point -- setting up a safety net to cope with the post-indictment stage," he said.

Hariri is said to have met with Saudi officials during a visit to Washington this week. He headed to Riyadh after a brief stopover in Beirut to meet with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, the Lebanese newspaper adds.

Hezbollah is widely expected to be named by the STL when it releases its findings. The Shiite resistance movement paints the tribunal as an Israeli conspiracy meant to discredit the organization.


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