The United States and Lebanon signed a trade agreement Thursday that the US government said furthers President George W. Bush's initiative to negotiate a free trade agreement spanning the Middle East. Called a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, the pact signed in Beirut, Lebanon, is part of the Bush administration's "effort to support the Lebanese government," said Shaun Donnelly, assistant US Trade Representative. "The TIFA signals the commitment of our two governments to work in a concrete and comprehensive manner to expand bilateral economic ties," Donnelly said in a statement issued by his office. "It will be an important means through which the United States can further its efforts to help promote Lebanese economic development, create jobs and further integrate Lebanon into the global economy. Today's signing also demonstrates the continued progress being made under the president's Middle East Free Trade Area initiative."