WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President George W. Bush Friday laid blame on Syria for the stalemate that has prevented Lebanon from choosing a new president, saying Damascus was “thwarting the will of the Lebanese people.”
In an interview with international media, Bush said that on his trip next week to the Middle East he would seek to remind other leaders “how important it is for Lebanon to succeed and how important it is for all of us to work to free that government from foreign interference.”
“I am disappointed that the presidency has not been selected, and believe very much that Syrian influence is preventing the selection,” Bush said.
“My position has been that the March 14th Coalition, if it had mustered a majority plus one, 50 percent plus one, should be allowed to go forward with the selection of the president,” he said.
“And so there needs to be a clear message to the Syrians from all us that you will continue to be isolated, you will continue to be viewed as a nation that is thwarting the will of the Lebanese people.
“There needs to be a focused voice, and so our efforts diplomatically are to convince others that they must continue to pressure Syria so that the Lebanese process can go forward.”
Bush added that he has been “very impressed” by Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora “as a man who’s committed to the well-being of all the Lebanese people.”
Bush is scheduled to depart Tuesday for a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories in an attempt to boost Middle East peace talks relaunched at an international conference in Annapolis in November.
He is not scheduled to visit Lebanon on the trip.