Bush Rejects Partial Pullout

Published March 06, 2005

| FoxNews.com

President Bush (search) said he will not accept any "half-measures" from Syria when it comes to Damascus pulling its troops out of Lebanon.

Flatly rejecting any partial withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, Bush said Friday that "when the United States and France say withdraw, we mean complete withdrawal, no halfhearted measures."

On Saturday, Syrian President Bashar Assad (search) is 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 (search), 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, making the Syria comments during an event in New Jersey on his Social Security proposals, said he welcomed that new pressure and that 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."

Sen. John Cornyn (search), R-Texas, told FOX News that Bush is right that partial pullout simply isn't good enough.

"We shouldn't have to settle for that, and when Syria has elections in May, they cannot be fair elections while they're done under a Syrian occupation. So it's absolutely necessary, it's imperative that Syria withdraw all their troops," Cornyn said.

"We can provide the stabilization, the U.N. can, if there's any stabilization needed as a result of that vacuum of power, but the truth is, we cannot have fair elections, the Syrians cannot have fair elections with — or the Lebanese cannot with Syria there occupying their country."

McClellan told reporters that "there continues to be international support" for Syria to comply with U.N. Resolution 1559, which calls for the withdrawal of Syrian troops.

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said the exporting of terrorists and other such activities in Syria has to stop and that military action shouldn't be ruled out.

"You should never take that option off the table, especially if you have a country that's causing problems with their neighbors, is allowing people from Iraq to go back and forth across the border ... is contributing to the killing of Americans," Lott told FOX News. "They've been doing bad things for some time ... [and] they're well known for their baby steps ... they're very capable of saying one thing and doing another."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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