Syrian Official Denies He Threatened Hariri

Syria's deputy foreign minister denied a U.N. report's statement that he threatened former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (search) days before he was assassinated.

"This is totally untrue," Deputy Foreign Minister Walid Moallem (search) said in a call to a talk show on Syrian state television. "I did not go to Premier Hariri to make threats. I went to him to inform him about my mission and ask him to cooperate in order for the mission to succeed."

The U.N. report, released Thursday night, refers to a tape of a conversation between Moallem and Hariri on Feb. 1 — 13 days before the assassination.

In the conversation, the report says Hariri complained that security services were waging a campaign against him. "But Lebanon (search) will never be ruled from Syria. This will no longer happen," Hariri said, according to the report.

The report says Moallem told Hariri "we and the [security] services here have put you into a corner."

"Please do not take things lightly," the report quotes Moallem as saying.

Moallem said Sunday that his relations with Hariri were based on friendship and their having worked together since the 1980s.