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Bush Says Syria Must Leave Lebanon


President George Bush delivered his most direct message yet to the government in Damascus, backing-up demands by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier.

"I applauded the press conference she held with the foreign minister from France where both of them stood up and said loud and clear to Syria: You get your troops and your secret services out of Lebanon so that good democracy has a chance to flourish," Mr. Bush said.

President Bush, in remarks at a college in the state of Maryland, said the world is working together for the sake of freedom and peace in the Middle East and is speaking with one voice to make sure democracy takes hold in the region.

President Bush has said Syria is out of step with moves toward democracy in the Middle East.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan says Syria knows what it needs to do to change its behavior and become a constructive member of the region and of the international community.

He says the Bush administration continues to have concerns about members of the former Iraqi regime operating across the border in Syria. Mr. McClellan says Washington is also concerned about Syria's ongoing support for terrorism, including the most recent bombing in Tel Aviv. He says the Bush administration has firm evidence that the violence was planned by Islamic Jihad leaders in Damascus.

Syria has had troops across the border in Lebanon since 1976, shortly after the start of the country's civil war.

Some 14,000 Syrian military and intelligence personnel are thought to be in Lebanon. Pressure for their withdrawal has grown since the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister sparked street demonstrations which this week led to the resignation of a pro-Syrian government in Beirut.

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