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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 February 2006, 15:46 GMT
Syrian leader reshuffles cabinet
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad has strongly denied any role in Hariri's killing
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has reshuffled his cabinet.

He named Walid al-Muallem as foreign minister to replace Farouq al-Shara, who became a vice-president.

Bassam Abdel Majeed was appointed interior minister to succeed the late general Ghazi Kanaan, whom authorities said committed suicide last year.

The shake-up comes as Syria faces international pressure to co-operate with a UN inquiry into the killing of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri.

The investigation has implicated leading Syrian officials - but Damascus denies involvement.

Panel claims

Mr Kanaan's death last October came a week before the UN published a report into the killing in February 2005.

In the report, the UN panel in effect accused Mr Shara of lying in a written statement.

It said that a letter from him to the investigators contained "false information".

That December, former Vice-President Abdul Halim Khaddam made remarks implicating the president in the murder.

The comments prompted Syria's parliament to bring treason charges against Mr Khaddam, who had resigned from his post in June 2005.

Mr Assad has strongly denied any role in Mr Hariri's death.


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