Lebanese sovereignty becomes the international issue

&to=http:// english.pravda.ru/mailbox/22/98/386/14873_Bush.html' target=_blank>President Bush called on Syria on Thursday to withdraw its forces from Lebanon as Lebanese opposition leaders vowed to topple the country's pro-Syrian leadership.

Pressure has been piling up on Syria and its Lebanese allies since Monday's killing of former premier &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2001/11/01/19812.html' target=_blank>Rafik al-Hariri, the country's most influential politician, in a suspected car bombing that many Lebanese blame on Damascus.

Bush said Syria should adhere to a &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2002/12/21/41153.html' target=_blank>U.N. resolution demanding its troops leave Lebanon and should allow an election scheduled for May to be free and fair. Bush recalled the U.S. ambassador to Syria this week in reaction to the bombing. At a news conference, he said he did not know who was behind the killing, informs Reuters.

According to the Guardian, the family of slain former premier Rafik Hariri called Thursday for an internationally led investigation into his assassination as pressure mounted to catch his killers, setting the scene for a standoff with the Syrian-backed Lebanese government. Lebanon's government opposes a foreign-led investigation into Monday's blast that killed Hariri and 16 others. It has, however, requested foreign investigators, including Swiss forensic and explosives experts, assist the inquiry. Many Lebanese, including Hariri's supporters, accuse Syria and the Lebanese government of orchestrating the attack and fear a domestic probe will lead nowhere.

Both governments have denied any involvement.

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