File - Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, left, Parliament member Marwan Hamadeh and Bahiyah Hariri, sister of President Hariri, are pictured during a meeting at the Parliament in Beirut, Friday, Feb. 14, 2005. (AP Photo/str)
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Rafik Hariri's relations with Syrian authorities soured after President Bashar Assad assumed the presidency, a childhood friend and confidant of the former Prime Minister told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Tuesday.Ghaleb al-Shamaa, one of Hariri's oldest friends and close advisers, told the court that Hariri had maintained a civil if imperfect relationship with Syrian authorities under President Hafez Assad, who ruled Syria from 1971-2000 . Bashar Assad removed the Syrian officials who had previously liased between Damascus and Hariri, and appointed Rustom Ghazaleh in their stead, according to Shamaa.Shamaa testified that he would often accompany Hariri to Damascus when he had meetings with the Syrian President.After a stormy meeting in August 2004 when President Bashar Assad told Hariri to endorse Lebanon's Pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud for a second term, Hariri appeared out of sorts.
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