7 Sep 2010

PM retracts accusation against Syria

1:09 pm on 7 September 2010

Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri says he made a mistake in accusing Syria of assassinating his father, former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, who was killed by a huge bomb in Beirut in 2005.

In an interview with the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Mr Hariri said it was a political accusation that had been made prematurely.

The BBC reports Syria has been widely accused of being behind the attack, but has always denied involvement.

Mr Hariri added that Lebanon and Syria had deep ties and that an international inquiry into his father's killing had been misled by false testimony.

Rafik Hariri died in a massive truck bomb attack in Beirut in 2005.

In the interview, Mr Hariri said: "At a certain stage we made mistakes and accused Syria of assassinating the martyred premier. This was a political accusation, and this political accusation has finished."

Correspondents say the statement represents a major switch for Saad Hariri, who for years blamed Damascus for his father's death. Syria has always denied involvement.

The BBC reports Rafik Hariri's death sparked anti-Syrian protests that led to Syria's withdrawal.