(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
BEIRUT — France's foreign minister on Saturday appealed for calm in Lebanon amid a deepening political crisis over upcoming indictments in the 2005 assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister.
Bernard Kouchner said the Netherlands-based tribunal investigating Rafik Hariri's death is impartial and that the killers must be brought to justice.
Coalition led by Hizbullah boycotts Lebanese talks over UN tribunal
'Hizbullah making preparations to seize power in Beirut'
"It is paramount for the equilibrium of Lebanon that there be no impunity for such crimes," said Kouchner, who met with Lebanon's president, prime minister and members of the Hizbullah militant group during his two-day trip.
Many observers fear violence could break out if the court indicts Hezbollah members. The militant group's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, says the court is biased and has been poisoned by "false witnesses" who misled the investigation.
Hizbullah said in a statement that it told Kouchner that "dangerous violations" have undermined the court's professionalism and credibility from the start.
Kouchner said Hizbullah believes it "will be targeted more than others" by the tribunal.
"I understand their concerns ... I know they are certainly anxious about the consequences," he said.
recent months, the United States, France and other countries have
appealed for calm
and spoken out in support of the tribunal as part of a
diplomatic effort to back the investigation.