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Foreign relations of Lebanon

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Foreign relations of Lebanon

The foreign policy of Lebanon reflects its geographic location, the composition of its population, and its reliance on commerce and trade. Until 2005, Lebanon's foreign policy had been heavily influenced by Syria. The framework for relations was first codified in May 1991, when Lebanon and Syria signed a treaty of mutual cooperation. This treaty came out of the Taif Agreement, which stipulated that "Lebanon is linked to Syria by distinctive ties deriving strength from kinship, history, and common interests." The Lebanese-Syria treaty calls for "coordination and cooperation between the two countries" that would serve the "interests of the two countries within the framework of sovereignty and independence of each." Numerous agreements on political, economic, security, and judicial affairs have followed over the years.

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After Syria's military withdrawal in 2005, Lebanon's foreign policy charted a more independent course. Although its current government's policy can be considered Western-leaning if not pro-Western, the political opposition led by Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement advocate a foreign policy more in line with that of Iran and Syria.

Middle East

Lebanon also has bilateral trade agreements with several Arab states and is in the process of accession to the World Trade Organization. Lebanon traditionally enjoys warm relations with other pro-Western Arab states. At various times, however, it has seen tension with Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Libya. In March 2002, in honor of the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the South of the country, the Arab League met in Lebanon for the first time since 1967. Lebanon also is a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Hezbollah maintains a close relationship with Iran, largely centered on Shi'a Muslim links and animosity towards Israel.

Cyprus

See Foreign relations of Cyprus

Iran

See Iran–Lebanon relations

Iraq

Lebanon and Iraq share the same language and mutual support for each other in conflicts, Lebanon's relations with Iraq have at most times been cold. Issues include the Lebanese Government's strong material and political assistance of Hezbollah and ongoing clashes in Iraq between the Sunnis and Shias. Despite this tension, the two nations have embassies in each of their capital cities.

Israel

Lebanon claims Israeli controlled Shebaa Farms in southern Syria.

According to current Lebanese officials, Lebanon will be the last Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel as the two states are officially in a state of war. The already strained relations between the two countries have deteriorated to an abysmal point in the 2006 war, a move which many believe to have strained US-Lebanese relations.

Saudi Arabia

The relationship between these two Arab countries are very strong.

In 2008, the Saudi Foreign Minister, prince Saud Al Faisal secretly proposed setting up an Arab military force to fight Hezbollah in Lebanon with the help of the United States, UN and NATO. According to leaked diplomatic memos, Faisal has accused the UN troops in Lebanon of "sitting doing nothing", and voiced concerns that Iran will use Hezbollah to take over Lebanon.

Syria

The relationship between these two neighboring countries in Western Asia is complex: Syria has had troops stationed in Lebanon and has exerted political influence in the nation for many years. However, Syria has only officially recognised Lebanon's sovereignty recently.

Europe

Lebanon concluded negotiations on an association agreement with the European Union in late 2001, and both sides initialed the accord in January 2002, the accord becoming known as the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement. The EU-Lebanon Action Plan from 19 January 2007 gave a new impetus to bilateral relations in the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy.

Lebanon is one of the main Mediterranean beneficiaries of community assistance and the EU through its various instruments is Lebanon’s leading donor. Starting from 2007 financial support is channeled through the European Neighborhood Policy Instrument. A Lebanon Country Strategy Paper 2007-2013 and a National Indicative Program 2007-2010 have been adopted by the EU. The assistance provided was refocused after the Second Lebanon War in order to engage in real help for the government and the society in reconstruction and reform of the country.

References

Foreign relations of Lebanon Wikipedia


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