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U.S. Freezes Assets of Pro-Syrian Suspects

United States President George W. Bush issued an executive order on Wednesday blocking the assets of anyone connected to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri.

He mentioned no names in the report, but the Reform Party of Syria said it expects the names are already known and will be announced after the final United Nations report on the assassination is filed.

Bush said it is in the interests of the U.S. to assist the international commission tasked with investigating the murder, and to assist the Lebanese government in identifying and holding accountable the people who were involved in the killing.

Al-Hariri, an opponent of Syria’s involvement in Lebanon, was killed with 22 other people in a car bomb on February 14, 2005. The killing was followed by mass protests by Lebanese citizens, urging Syria to leave the country and pressing for an investigation of the murder.

Syria pulled its forces out of Lebanon in April 2005, ending a 29-year presence in the country.

The U.N. international investigating commission has implicated senior Syrian officials in the assassination. Damascus denies any connection to the murder.

The order says that as of Wednesday, all U.S.-related property belonging to anyone involved in Al-Hariri’s murder will be blocked. The order also applies to anyone who tried to block the work of the investigating commission and anyone involved in other assassination attempts since October 2004.

Secretary General of the U.N. Kofi Annan requested on Wednesday that Syria work with the Lebanese government to establish diplomatic relations and delineate the border between the two countries as he has offered.