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News :: International
Bush Sketches 'Wing-Clipping' Scenario for Syria's Exit from Lebanon
17 Mar 2005
President Bush has sketched a wing-clipping scenario for Syria's exit from Lebanon, asserting that its intelligence organizations should no longer be allowed to influence government functions in Beirut and insisting the withdrawal should be completed before the spring elections for a new Lebanese parliament.
Bush outlined the U.S. stance at a White House news conference shortly before holding 30 minutes of talks with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir during which the American president insisted that the Syrian withdrawal should be completed in time for the upcoming elections to be "fee and fair."

"We want a thriving democracy in Lebanon. We believe that there will be a thriving democracy, but only if Syria withdraws not only her troops completely out of Lebanon, but also her secret service organizations, intelligence organizations," Bush told the new conference.

"I am concerned, and the world should be concerned that the intelligence organizations are embedded in a lot of government functions in Lebanon, and there needs to be a complete withdrawal of those services in order for there to be a free election," Bush said.

He pledged his administration to work with "elected leaders of a free, truly free Lebanon, and looking forward to it." This remark fueled reports in the Beirut media that the U.S. would help Lebanon cope with its staggering national debt once Syria is out and a free government is installed in Beirut.

Bush took a jab at Hizbullah, saying it might run in the Lebanese elections on a platform of "vote for me, I look forward to blowing up America." Nevertheless, he said he liked the idea of people running for office.
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