President Bush says Syria must finish withdrawing soldiers and security services from Lebanon before Lebanese elections scheduled for next month.
President Bush says he will keep the pressure on Syria to get its forces out of Lebanon so as not to influence May elections.
“The United States can join with the rest of the world, like we've done, and say to Syria, get out -- not only get out with your military forces, but get out with your intelligence services, too; get completely out of Lebanon, so Lebanon can be free and the people can be free,” he said.
President Bush says he is pleased that Syrian troops are beginning to leave but says those embedded in Lebanese intelligence services must go as well. Authorities say about 1000 Syrian troops still remain in Lebanon and are expected to depart by April 30.
President Bush recorded the interview with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation before the announcement that Prime Minister designate Najib Mikati has formed a new government.
In the interview, President Bush also called for the disarming of the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah, calling it a dangerous organization that is on the U.S. list of terrorist groups because it has killed Americans in the past.
Mr. Bush says it is up to the Lebanese to decide the fate of their country, but he says they will not find freedom if a group of armed citizens can impose their will on a free society.
Asked how a new Lebanese government might meet security demands, President Bush said he realizes not every free society is capable of internal security at first and there are ways for the international community to come together to reassure people that there will be help to secure the country.