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Facing mounting pressure over alleged Syrian links to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, Syrian President Bashar Assad has promised that any Syrian found "by concrete evidence" to have been involved in the murder will stand trial, the Washington Post reported yesterday.

Assad's comments, in a letter to the United States, Britain and France dated Sunday, is Syria's first substantive answer to charges leveled in a preliminary United Nations report into the assassination, which concluded that senior Syrian officials were involved in the murder.

According to the Washington Post, Assad wrote, "I have declared that Syria is innocent of this crime, and I am ready to follow up action to bring to trial any Syrian who could be proved by concrete evidence to have had connection with this crime."

Hariri, a strong opponent of the Syrian presence in Lebanon, was killed on February 14 when an explosion ripped through his motorcade as it made its way through downtown Beirut. Another 19 people were killed in the blast.