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Archive for Sunday, February 12, 2006

Leader changes Cabinet, signaling he won’t bend

February 12, 2006

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— Syria's president ordered a major Cabinet shake-up Saturday, signaling he has no plans to cave under growing U.S. and international pressure over the assassination of a former Lebanese leader and alleged failure to stop militants from crossing into Iraq.

President Bashar Assad named his hard-line Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa as vice president and replaced him with his deputy, Walid Moallem, a former ambassador to the United States and United Nations. Al-Sharaa was also put in charge of implementing Syrian "foreign and information policies."

The U.N. investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has accused both men of giving false information to the probe.

Hariri died in a truck bombing that killed 20 other people in Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005. Syria has denied involvement, although U.N. investigators said the assassination could not have occurred without Damascus' knowledge.

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