WESTFIELD, N.J. – President Bush on Friday flatly rejected any partial withdrawal of Syrian troops (search) from Lebanon, saying he will not accept the kind of "half-measures" Damascus is expected to propose as a compromise.
"There are no half-measures at all," Bush said during an event here on his Social Security (search) proposals. "When the United States and France say withdraw, we mean complete withdrawal, no halfhearted measures."
During a speech Saturday to his parliament, Syrian President Bashar Assad (search) was expected to announce a troop pullback to eastern Lebanon near the Syrian border — but not a full withdrawal, according to Syrian and Lebanese officials.
"We need to see action, not words," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said a day ahead of that speech.
A fellow Arab nation, Saudi Arabia, has also called on Syria to pull out. On Thursday, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah told Assad their relations will suffer if Syria doesn't start soon on a complete withdrawal, a Saudi official said.
Bush welcomed that new pressure, saying he was pleased to hear the same message from Saudi Arabia that has been pressed by a growing list of nations.
"Syria, Syrian troops, Syria's intelligence services, must get out of Lebanon now," the president said. "The world is beginning to speak with one voice. We want that democracy in Lebanon to succeed, and we know it cannot succeed so long as she is occupied by a foreign power and that power is Syria."
Bush told the New York Post in an interview published Friday that he wants Syria's longtime presence in Lebanon and influence on its political affairs ended by May.
McClellan said that deadline was pegged to the parliamentary elections planned for a new government in Lebanon.
"We want to make sure those are free and fair elections without outside interference," McClellan said.