The United States and Saudi Arabia have jointly pressured Syria to end allegedly political interference in Lebanon, including the U.S. military deployment off the Lebanese coast, the Washington Post reported Saturday.
The new military, economic and diplomatic steps include the toughest actions taken by the Bush administration against Syria, such as a recent presidential executive order allowing sanctions against Syrian officials allegedly meddling in Lebanon,
Saudi Arabia is considering withdrawing its ambassador from Damascus and pressed for an Arab League meeting to be held next week, to discuss the political vacuum in Lebanon followed by its inability to elect a new president since last November, said unidentified U.S. government officials in the report.
Lebanon's parliament has not elected a new president because of an enduring standoff that pits the Syrian-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah and its Christian allies against a coalition gathered around the government, which is backed by the United States, SaudiArabia and France.
U.S. President George W. Bush and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia first discussed a joint effort on Syria during the president's trip to Riyadh in January.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal then discussed details with President Bush and other U.S. officials at a White House meeting on Feb. 15, according to U.S. and Arab officials.