By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer, UNITED NATIONS – A top U.N. envoy was instructed Monday to travel to Syria “as soon as possible” to see President Bashar Al-Assad about Lebanon, but U.N. officials would not say why the mission was deemed urgent. The announcement that Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked Terje Roed-Larsen to travel to Damascus came three days after the United States said it would like the U.N. Security Council to expand an international inquiry into former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination to include the killing of an anti-Syrian journalist.Roed-Larsen stepped down as Annan’s top U.N. Mideast envoy last year, but agreed to become his special envoy for implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, which was adopted in October and called for Syria to withdraw all military forces and intelligence operatives. It also called for disarmament of all Lebanese militias.

A U.N. military team verified the pullout of all Syrian troops from Lebanon on May 23 but said it can’t be certain all intelligence operatives left the country.

U.N. associate spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced Roed-Larsen’s trip, saying “the secretary-general expects that the United Nations and the government of Syria will continue to work closely together to ensure the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559.”

Pressed on the urgency of the trip, he said implementation of the resolution is continuing “and there are bound to be regular contacts between the U.N. and the Syrian leadership on this, but I have no further details on their specific agenda.”

Hariri’s Feb. 14 assassination in a Beirut bombing which killed 20 others as well caused an uproar in Lebanon, sparking massive anti-Syrian street protests and leading to the withdrawal of Syrian troops after 29 years of political and military dominance.

Last week, prominent Lebanese journalist Samir Kassir, who had long advocated Syria’s withdrawal, was killed by a bomb that destroyed his car. The anti-Syrian opposition in Lebanon blamed Damascus, Lebanon’s pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, and pro-Syrian elements in the Lebanese security services, for his assassination.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously April 7 to authorize an international probe into Hariri’s killing after a U.N. fact-finding team concluded that a Lebanese probe into the killing did not meet international standards.

German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, appointed by Annan to head the investigation, left for Beirut last week, saying he was cautiously optimistic of finding out who was responsible.

On Friday, U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns met Annan and one topic on their agenda was the U.S. desire for the Security Council to add an inquiry of Kassir’s murder to Mehlis’ probe.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard confirmed Burns raised the issue “and the secretary-general discussed this and other options with him.”