Syria Faces Arab Isolation

With Arab nations and tradionally allies moving to isolate Syria, it’s just a matter of time before they’re permanently out of Lebanon.

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – Arab leaders grew increasingly impatient at Syria’s resistance to a quick, complete withdrawal of its troops from Lebanon, with Saudi leader Crown Prince Abdullah sharply telling Syria’s president on Thursday to start getting out soon or face deeper isolation, according to a Saudi official.

The unusually tough message came when Syrian President Bashar Assad met Abdullah and other Saudi leaders in the kingdom’s capital, the Saudi official told The Associated Press by telephone from Riyadh. Arab League foreign ministers, meeting in Cairo on Thursday, added to the pressure, expressing support for the diplomatic push by Saudia Arabia and Egypt.

Damage in relations with Saudi Arabia would deepen Syria’s isolation after its traditional allies, Russia and France, joined the United States and United Nations in demanding a full pullout. Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Washington, often presents Syria’s point of view to U.S. officials.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia fear that unless Syria removes its troops quickly from Lebanon, where it has held control for decades, the United States and other Western countries will start taking concrete action to force it to do so.The Saudi government is upset with Syria over the Feb. 14 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who also held Saudi citizenship and was close to the Saudi royal family. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has urged Syria for years honor a 1979 agreement to pull out of Lebanon.

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