U.S. President George W. Bush said he hoped Syria would cooperate with a probe into the killing of ex-Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and added military action by Washington was a last resort.
“A military (option) is always the last choice of a President,” Bush told al-Arabiya television in an interview aired on Tuesday when asked about a U.N. Investigation that implicated Syrian officials in Hariri’s murder.
“I am hoping that they will cooperate. It (military) is the last - very last option ... But on the other hand, you know - and I’ve worked hard for diplomacy and will continue to work the diplomatic angle on this issue,” the president said.
Syria must meet demands by the international community including expelling Palestinian terror groups, preventing insurgents from crossing its borders into Iraq to fight U.S. troops and ending Syrian interference in Lebanon, he said.
“Nobody wants there to be a confrontation. On the other hand, there must be serious pressure applied,” he said.
“In other words, there are some clear demands by the world. And this (U.N.) report, as I say, had serious implications for Syria and the Syrian government must take the demands of the free world very seriously.”
The U.N. Report by German investigator Detlev Mehlis said the decision to kill Hariri “Could not have been taken without the approval of top-ranked Syrian security officials” colluding with counterparts in Lebanon.
Syria dismissed the report as political and said the charges were false.
Reuters obtained a transcript of the Bush interview, conducted in Washington on Monday, from Dubai-based al-Arabiya.