By Evelyn Leopold UNITED NATIONS, March 9 (Reuters) – Lebanon and the United Nations are close to completing plans for a tribunal to prosecute suspects in the 2005 murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri and others, a Lebanese official said on Thursday.

The court was set to be located outside Lebanon and headed by a non-Lebanese judge, but would still have "a significant Lebanese presence," Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh told a news conference. Hamadeh spoke to U.N. officials on a trip to New York and Washington with Druze opposition leader Walid Jumblatt. Hamadeh narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in a car bombing in October 2004 and is the uncle of Gibran Tueni, an anti-Syrian journalist murdered by a bomb in December.

"Discussions are underway for logistics and funding of the tribunal, and we expect a quick decision on its establishment," Hamadeh said, adding that the U.N. Security Council would have to give its approval in a resolution.

The U.N.-authorized investigation into Hariri’s death is headed by Belgian Serge Brammertz, who is due to report to the Security Council by March 15.

Brammertz, on leave as the deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, is reviewing files from his predecessor, German Detlev Mehlis, to make sure the evidence stands up in court, diplomats said.

Hariri and at least 20 others were killed on Feb. 14, 2005, by a bomb blast in Beirut that Mehlis has said "could not have been taken without the approval of top-ranked Syrian security officials," in collusion with their Lebanese counterparts.

Syrian officials have denied that President Bashar al-Assad’s government was involved in the assassination.

Four Lebanese generals are under arrest in Lebanon.

The U.N. investigation is also assisting Lebanese authorities in probing other assassinations.

"If we can try one or two cases, we can target other murders," Jumblatt said.

Hariri’s death has changed the Lebanese landscape, triggering international outrage and protests in Beirut that forced Syria to end its 29-year military presence.

Earlier this month Lebanese judges Ralph Riachi and Choukry Sader came to New York to discuss plans for the tribunal with Nicolas Michel, the top U.N. legal official.