CAIRO, Egypt – Saudi officials told Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday that he must fully withdraw troops from Lebanon and begin soon or face strains in Saudi-Syrian ties. Assad promised only to study the idea of a partial withdrawal by later this month. The kingdom took a tough line as Assad met with the Saudi leader, Crown Prince Abdullah, and other officials in Riyadh. So far, Damascus has resisted Arab pressure for a quick pullout from Lebanon.

Saudi officials told Assad the kingdom insists on the full withdrawal of all Syrian military and intelligence forces from Lebanon and wants it to start “soon,” according to a Saudi official who spoke by telephone from Riyadh.