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UPDATED: 09:18, November 10, 2005
Moussa denies receiving proposal to question Syrian officials in Cairo
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Visiting Arab League chief Amr Moussa said Wednesday that he did not receive any proposal to question Syrian officials in Cairo over their alleged role in the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

"Nobody has requested that the questioning of Syrian witnesses be done in Cairo under the umbrella of the Arab League," Moussa told reporters after meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara.

Moussa also denied that the Arab League will send observers when Syrian officials are questioned by a UN investigation team.

Earlier in the day, an Information Ministry source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that the Syrian government might want officials to be questioned in a third country due to security reasons. But the source declined to name the country.

Chief UN investigator Detlev Mehlis, currently in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, made a request through the United Nations to the Syrian government that he wants to question six Syrian officials in Lebanon.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, head of Syria's military intelligence, was reportedly on the list that Mehlis intended to question.

Syria has not officially responded, but said it was studying the request.

Although there is no Syrian reply yet, Mehlis has reached an agreement with the Lebanese government on how to transport would- be questioned Syrian officials to his headquarters in a hilltop hotel in eastern Beirut, the London-based pan-Arab al-Hayat daily reported.

The paper quoted informed Lebanese sources as saying that the Syrian officials will be transferred to Mehlis headquarters in UN vehicles when they arrived at the Syrian-Lebanese border and the convoy will be heavily guarded by Lebanese security forces to and fro.

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1636 on Oct. 31, asking Syria to fully cooperate with the UN probe or face possible "further action."

An interim report presented by Mehlis on Oct. 20 implicated the involvement of Syrian and Lebanese officials in the assassination of Hariri in a car bomb blast in Beirut on Feb. 14.

Syria has denied any involvement and dismissed the report as politically motivated, while promising to cooperate with the probe.

Source: Xinhua

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