LEBANESE President Elias Hrawi signed a treaty with Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad Wednesday, tying his war-battered country to its powerful neighbor. The Brotherhood, Cooperation, and Coordination Accord is part of the Arab-brokered Taif peace accord to end 16 years of civil war in Lebanon, where Syria has roughly 40,000 troops.
President Hrawi arrived in Damascus earlier in the day after gaining backing for the treaty Tuesday from Lebanese political and religious leaders in Beirut. The Lebanese Cabinet approved it May 15.
Under the brotherhood treaty, Lebanon's future policies will have to be in harmony with Syria's. The two countries will strengthen ties through agreements in foreign policy, security, economic affairs, and tourism. Syria, which has a socialist government, must respect Lebanon's liberal political system and free-wheeling economy, according to the treaty.
The pact is the first signed by Lebanon and Syria since they gained independence from France during World War II. It marks the first formal recognition by Syria of Lebanon's independent status.
They were regarded as one administrative territory under the French mandate between 1920 and 1941.