Russia runs into opposition on Hariri probe

Russia ran into opposition from France, the United States and other Security Council members when it sought to ask the chief investigator probing the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister for the names of 10 countries that have failed to cooperate with his commission. Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Tuesday it was the Security Council's responsibility to make sure that all countries cooperate with the investigation into Rafik Hariri's assassination. But France, the US, Britain and others defended the position of chief investigator Serge Brammertz, who does not want to disclose the names at this time, council diplomats said. In his fourth report to the council on Dec. 16, Brammertz said Syria's cooperation with his investigators "remains timely and efficient" though he criticized 10 other countries - which he did not name - for failing to respond to 22 requests from his International Independent Investigation Commission. A report last year by Brammertz's predecessor implicated Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services in the Feb. 14, 2005, bomb blast that killed Hariri and 22 others in central Beirut, and every report to the council has addressed Syria's cooperation. Four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals have been under arrest for 16 months accused of involvement in Hariri's murder.