“Syria, Syrian troops, Syrian intelligence services must get out of Lebanon now,” President Bush said in a speech in the town of Westfield, New Jersey.

The president’s speech came amid expectations that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will unveil a plan to pull out at least some of its 14,000 troops currently in Lebanon in a keynote address to parliament this weekend.

The pressure on Syria has increased dramatically since the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri last month.

Syria and its allies in Lebanon have been widely blamed for Mr Hariri’s murder, and mass public protests have already forced the resignation of the Beirut government.

In his speech, Mr Bush reiterated that his demands are non-negotiable and recalled how on a recent tour of Europe he and French President Jacques Chirac had agreed about Lebanon’s future.

“The world is speaking to Syria with one voice: We want that democracy in Lebanon to succeed. And we know it cannot succeed so long as it is occupied by a foreign power. There are no half-measures involved. We mean complete withdrawal, no half-hearted measures,” he said.

The president also welcomed the call by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz for Syria to withdraw its troops.

“Lebanon is a democracy and we strongly support that democracy. I was pleased that Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia sent a very strong message,” he said.

The prince urged Syria to pull the troops out “rapidly” in accordance with UN Security Council demands, a Saudi official said.

In an interview with the New York Post President Bush was asked if there is a threat of military action if Syria didn’t withdraw.

“No,” he replied. “The ‘or else’ is further isolation from the world. You know, the president should never take any options off the table, …but… my last choice is military.”

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