WASHINGTON – President Bush (search) said Wednesday that Syria's withdrawal plans in Lebanon are just "a half measure" and that Syrian intelligence services exercise "heavy-handed" influence in Lebanon's government.
Bush reiterated his call on Syria (search) 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 services throughout the government," the president said in a brief question 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, 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 was not enough.
"That is a half measure," Bush said. "It is a measure but it's a half measure."