Syrian President Bashar Assad denied in an interview published Saturday that he had threatened the slain former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a meeting to discuss extending the term of pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, which Hariri opposed.
"I am direct and frank. I don't know what others meant by threatening. This never happened and the aim was to connect the threat with the assassination. The game is clear. Nobody attended the last meeting between me and Hariri, therefore, how did they tell these allegations?" Assad told the Egyptian weekly al-Osboa.
Syria's former vice president Abdul-Halim Khaddam, who defected to France, told The Associated Press on Friday that Hariri was threatened by Assad before his death in a massive truck bombing last year. Several anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians and reports issued by the UN team investigating Hariri's assassination suggested a Syrian role in the killing.