Syria and Lebanon signed a military and political treaty Wednesday despite Israel's warning that Syria is trying to "swallow Lebanon" and upset the balance of power in the Middle East.

The treaty was also Syria's first recognition of Lebanon, which claimed independence from France in 1943, as a sovereign state.Syrian-backed President Elias Hrawi of Lebanon and Syria's President Hafez Assad signed the treaty in Damascus at 1 p.m. in front of Cabinet ministers from both countries.

Israel accused Syria of exploiting the Persian Gulf crisis to "swallow Lebanon," and Israeli spokesmen warned Syria against deploying missiles and artillery in the eastern Lebanese Bekaa Valley and southern Lebanon and against trying to disband the pro-Israeli South Lebanon army.