The United States and France put the finishing touches on a UN Security Council resolution Tuesday that is expected to demand Syria reverse a pattern of obstruction and cooperate with a probe into the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister.
A central question remains whether the resolution will threaten sanctions or other punitive action if Syria doesn't cooperate with the probe into Rafik Hariri's Feb. 14 assassination, as
investigators claim. Russia and China, which can veto a resolution, may try to block such a move.
"We want a very strong signal to the government of Syria that its obstruction has to cease and cease immediately," US Ambassador John Bolton said. "The resolution will be very clear that the spotlight's on Syria and that it's obstruction today cannot continue."
The Security Council has discussed scheduling a meeting for Monday, attended by the 15 members' foreign ministers, to adopt a resolution. Diplomats say their presence would give the resolution added weight and increase pressure on Syria.
Several diplomats said council members all agree that Syria must cooperate more and want a strong resolution demanding it.
They appear to disagree, however, on how to back up a call for more involvement from Syria. Russia and China - both veto-wielding members of the council - don't appear in any hurry, and Moscow, which has close ties to Syria, would likely oppose sanctions or any reference to them.
France indicated Monday it would not support sanctions against Syria before Mehlis finished his investigation.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also has indicated the United States might be willing to put off its push for sanctions.