After meeting to discuss the future of Syrian troops in Lebanon, the presidents of the two countries issued the following statement:
Syrian troops have been in Lebanon since 1976
In response to an invitation by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Lebanese President Col Emile Lahoud has paid a visit to the Syrian Arab Republic at the head of an official delegation.
During the visit, the Syrian-Lebanese Higher Council held a meeting under the chairmanship of Presidents Assad and Lahoud, and in the presence of Nasri Khuri, secretary general of the Syrian-Lebanese Higher Council.
The two sides stressed that this meeting, which comes during these difficult circumstances and in view of the challenges that face the two countries, emphasises the determination of the two states to strengthen the march of co-operation and co-ordination between them and to continue implementing the articles of the treaty and the agreements signed within its framework accurately, with transparency, and in a manner that achieves the joint interests of the two countries.
The two sides pointed out their true determination to rectify any failure affecting this march within the framework of the joint establishments and services, which were established in accordance with this treaty, and which remains the sole legitimate and acceptable framework for handling difficulties and obstacles, and proposing visions on the future prospects for these relations, which should be translated on the ground through steps, projects, and conduct that reflect the historic, popular, social, economic, cultural, and political dimensions of these brotherly relations.
The two sides asserted that both countries are committed to the Taif Accord and its mechanisms, and the Brotherhood, Co-operation, and Co-ordination Treaty, and the agreements emanating from it.
They also renewed their adherence to the joint strategic constants in confronting the current and future challenges, and to endeavour to achieve a just and comprehensive peace based on the relative UN resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, the principle of land for peace, and their respect for all the international legitimacy resolutions, including Resolution 1559.
They stressed the importance of implementing these resolutions away from selectivity and double standards.
After that, the conferees moved to discussing the time schedule proposed by secretary general of the Syrian-Lebanese Higher Council in view of the report that he presented.
In light of the discussions, the following has been decided:
Based on Taif Accord and Article 4 of the Brotherhood, Co-operation, and Co-ordination Treaty signed between the two countries on 22 May 1992 and on the UN charter and out of respect for the resolutions of international legitimacy, the council has decided the following:
Withdrawing the Syrian Arab forces stationed in Lebanon to the Bekaa region and the western entrance to Bekaa at Zahr al-Baydar and to the Hamana-Mdayriz-Ayn Dara line by the end of March 2005.
Tasking the joint military committee with drawing up an agreement within one month at most after the withdrawal of the Syrian forces to Bekaa region in accordance with provision A. The agreement will fix the size and the duration of the presence of the Syrian forces in the above-mentioned areas, as well as the relations of these forces in their areas with the Lebanese State's authorities.
When the agreed-upon duration of the presence of the Syrian forces under provision B expires, the two Syrian and Lebanese governments will agree upon the withdrawal of the remaining Syrian Arab forces.
Based on the provisions of Article Six of the Brotherhood, Co-operation, and Co-ordination Treaty, the council has decided the following:
Inviting the Follow-up and Co-ordination Commission to meet as soon as possible under the co-chairmanship of the two countries' prime ministers to follow up the work of all the joint ministerial committees and to acquaint itself with what has been implemented during the previous stage and to approve it. The commission will also hold a meeting every six months.
Inviting the Defence and Security Affairs Committee to meet as soon as possible to reform the two defence and security committees, the two military and security follow-up committees, and the joint technical committees stipulated in the Defence and Security Agreement and to draw up an executive programme for the said agreement. The committees will also hold a meeting every three months.
Inviting the Foreign Affairs Committee to meet as soon as possible to set up a joint follow-up committee and to draw up a joint action programme in the face of the current challenges. The committee will hold a meeting every two months.
Inviting all the other joint ministerial committees, foremost of which is the Economic and Social Committee, to follow up its periodic meetings and tasking it if necessary to accelerate the implementation of the signed agreements and decisions on carrying out a series of joint projects.
Requesting the joint commission to draw up an executive programme for a joint agreement on labour and referring it to the Higher Council within three months for approval.
Requesting the joint Financial Committee to submit its study to the Higher Council regarding the possibility of establishing a unified customs wall within three months for approval.
Requesting the economic committee to submit its initial concept of the means and mechanisms of achieving an economic integration within three months for discussion.