Obama Welcomes Indictment in Hariri Case

By Staff | January 18, 2011 | 5:46 AM EST

A statue of slain former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri stands next to the seafront road where he was killed by a truck bomb in February 2005 near the St. George's Hotel (at right) in Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Washington (AP) - President Barack Obama said Monday he welcomes the first indictment in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Obama called the indictment in by a U.N. tribunal in Lebanon an important step toward ending the era of impunity for murder in Lebanon and achieving justice for its people.

He called on all Lebanese leaders and factions to preserve calm and exercise restraint.

The president said the Special Tribunal for Lebanon must now be allowed to continue its work without interference and coercion.

He said, "Any attempt to fuel tensions and instability, in Lebanon or in the region, will only undermine the very freedom and aspirations that the Lebanese people seek and that so many nations support."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said those who oppose the tribunal "seek to create a false choice between justice and stability in Lebanon; we reject this.