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U.S. Department of State
93/03/10 News Conference on Resumption of Middle East Peace Negotiations
Office of the Spokesman


Statement at news conference by
Secretary of State Warren Christopher

Washington, DC
March 10, 1993

President Clinton has asked me to make an announcement today on our 
efforts in the Middle East.  Events in the Middle East have historically 
captured the attention of the world.  Unfortunately, too often this has 
been because of war.  This is a region that since 1948 has known five 
Arab-Israeli wars.  And every time there has been a war, the world has 
held its breath because the risk of a superpower confrontation was ever 
present.

That risk is now a thing of the past.  The end of the Cold War has 
created an unusual opportunity for progress toward peace in the region, 
and now all of us must act to seize and enhance that opportunity.

In the Middle East, such opportunities are unlikely to last very long, 
and the cost of lost opportunity would be very high.  It's precisely 
because of the recognition of these costs that every Administration, for 
over the last 4 decades--Democratic and Republican alike--has played an 
active role in the search for peace in the Middle East.

This enduring and bipartisan commitment to promote peace reflects an 
unassailable reality.  The search for peace in the Middle East is in 
America's vital national interest.  It reflects the fact that conflict 
in this region, especially given the abundance of very destructive 
weapons in the region, contains the seeds of dangerous escalation.  It 
reflects the fact that a great majority of the world's oil supplies 
could be put at risk; and it reflects the fact that the United States 
has a special commitment to Israel's security, a country that is a solid 
and trusted ally with whom we share a deep and abiding commitment to 
democratic values.

I believe we now have an opportunity to promote peace that will serve 
the interests of Israel, the Arab states, the Palestinians, and the 
entire world community.  A passive American role is not enough.  What is 
called for is an active, positive effort that will take advantage of 
what many believe to be a historic moment in that region.

We must now seize this opportunity to play the role of full partner, 
just as we did in the achievement of the Israeli-Egyptian peace 14 years 
ago.  We have been repaid in full over the years by strong friendship 
and ties with both Israel and Egypt.  The visits to Washington by 
[Israeli] Prime Minister Rabin this week and by [Egyptian] President 
Mubarak in April are testimony to the enduring nature of the 
relationships that were forged out of this negotiation.

It is time for the people in this region to set aside violence and work 
together for reconciliation and peace.  The important steps taken at the 
Madrid conference have opened up a wide vista of possibilities.  Over 
the years, Arabs and Israelis have sat together--that is, over the 
course of the last year they have sat together--in bilateral 
negotiations, seeking to achieve a comprehensive settlement based upon 
UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.  They have also joined in 
multilateral negotiations on such diverse and pressing issues as arms 
control and regional security, economic development, water, refugees, 
and the environment.  They have sought to build a Middle East in which 
neighbors work together to resolve common problems.

President Clinton is committed to helping the parties confront and 
overcome the difficult challenges that lie ahead.  In asking me to take 
my first trip to the Middle East to consult with leaders in that region, 
the President offered our full assistance as an active, full partner in 
the search for peace.  In doing so, he underscored the enduring  reality 
of an American involvement in Middle East peace efforts.  It is good for 
us as Americans, and it is good for our friends and interests in the 
region.

The resumption of bilateral and multilateral negotiations, which we are 
announcing today, is important but not an end in itself.  Our objective 
and the objective of all parties must be to make real, tangible progress 
soon.  Nearly everyone I spoke to on my trip in the Middle East agreed 
that there may be now a one-time opportunity to promote peace.  History 
tells us that such opportunities may be fleeting, especially in the 
Middle East, and we believe it is now time to re-launch the 
negotiations.

Toward this end, the United States and Russia, as co-sponsors of the 
Middle East peace negotiations, are today inviting the parties to resume 
bilateral negotiations here in Washington for the 2-week period 
commencing on Tuesday, April 20 [1993].  We're also announcing the 
reconvening of the multilateral working groups [on] a specified series 
of dates beginning with the water group on April 27 in Geneva.

To prepare the ground for these important bilateral negotiations and 
multilateral negotiations, we'll also be inviting the parties to send 
representatives to Washington in late March or early April to have 
substantive discussions with our enhanced US team.

And so we must now all roll up our sleeves to make 1993 a year marked by 
real progress toward peace and reconciliation.  The United States is 
prepared to do its part, and now the other parties must be prepared to 
do theirs.  (###)