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Bush promises full Hariri investigation

Meets with son of slain Lebanese leader

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George W. Bush
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Friday promised the son of slain former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri that his father's assassination will receive a "full and firm investigation."

"The people who were responsible for your dad's death need to be held to account," said Bush, who received Saad Hariri, a member of the Lebanese Parliament, at the White House.

A U.N. investigation has found evidence suggesting the involvement of top-ranked Syrian and Lebanese officials in the killing of Hariri's father nearly one year ago. Hariri died in a massive explosion when his motorcade was bombed in Beirut last February.

The probe criticized the level of Syrian cooperation in the investigation and urged Damascus to be more forthcoming with information.

"It will be important for the region for Lebanon's democracy to be able to reach its full potential," Bush said. "And there's no doubt in my mind, with the focused effort of the free world reminding Syria to uphold to the U.N. Resolution 1559, we will be able to achieve the objective."

That resolution calls for the disarmament and disbanding of Hezbollah and other militias in Lebanon.

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Syria to "cooperate fully and unconditionally" in the Hariri investigation or else face possible referral to the U.N. Security Council. (Full story)

Syrian officials have denied any involvement in his slaying and have dismissed the U.N.'s investigation as false and politically motivated.

However, the former Syrian vice president, Abdel-Halim Khaddam, told the Arabic language network Al-Arabiya in December that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made direct personal threats against Hariri months before his assassination.

Khaddam has met with U.N. investigators and fled into exile. Syrian lawmakers have branded him a traitor. (Full story)

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