WASHINGTON – President Bush (search) said Wednesday that Syria's (search) withdrawal plans in Lebanon are just a "a half measure" and that Syrian intelligence services exercise "heavy-handed" influence in Lebanon's government.
Bush reiterated his call on Syria to remove all of its soldiers and intelligence forces from Lebanon (search) and said the United States was consulting with allies about possible steps if Damascus refuses.
"One thing a lot of people don't understand is Syrian influence is heavy-handed through the involvement of intelligence servicstion-and-answer session in the Oval Office. "And they must remove both for the election to be free."
Parliamentary elections are scheduled for May.
Bush spoke during a meeting with Romanian President Traian Basescu (search), who is on a three-day visit to the United States.
"The Syrians must remove their troops as well as their intelligence services," Bush said, calling on Syrian President Bashar Assad to comply with U.N. demands for a complete withdrawal.
Bush said Assad's promise to pull back to the Bekaa Valley (search) was not enough.
"That is a half measure," Bush said. "It is a measure but it's a half measure."
Bush said he would work with allies to pressure Syria: "The world is speaking now. That's what President Assad must understand. That's not just the Western world that speaks."
Bush said he was impressed by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's (search) admonition to Assad to abide by U.N. demands.
Bush also expressed new concerns about Iran's suspected nuclear ambitions.
"I think it's very important for the United States to continue to work with our friends and allies which believe that the Iranians want a nuclear weapon and which know that Iran possessing a nuclear weapon would be very destabilizing," the president said.
He said that on his recent trip to Europe, he found common ground with many allies who are worried about Iran's intentions.
"One reason there needs to be worry about Iran is that it is a non-transparent society. There's no openness," Bush said.
"And so I think it's very wise for the free world to be concerned about Iranian weapons -- Iranians' desire to develop a weapon -- and it's very easy for them to solve the problem, and that is to not only to give assurances about any nuclear weapons program, but to allow for IAEA inspection processes in a transparent way."