93/09/02 Interview on NPR with Bob Edwards/Middle East/Somalia (Washington, D.C)  Return to: Index of 1993 Secretary of State's Speeches/Testimonies || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

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U.S. Department of State
93/09/02 Interview on NPR with Bob Edwards/Middle East/Somalia
Office of the Spokesman



                           INTERVIEW OF
              SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
                                BY
                BOB EDWARDS, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO
                        "MORNING EDITION"

                         Washington, D.C.
                        September 2, 1993


MR. BOB EDWARDS:  This is "Morning Edition."  I'm Bob Edwards.  After 45 
years of conflict, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization 
finally are moving toward a new cooperative relationship.

Late last week, the world learned that Israeli and PLO negotiators in 
secret talks in Europe had reached a draft agreement that would give 
Palestinians control of their own affairs in the occupied Gaza Strip and 
in the West Bank town of Jericho.

The United States, which has been trying to facilitate the peace 
process, was not directly involved in the secret talks but is expected 
to provide assistance in getting the deal finalized and executed.

Joining me now is U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher.  Good 
morning, sir.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Good morning, Bob.

QUESTION:  What's the next step?  What will Washington do to help 
facilitate the process now?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, the next step, hopefully, is the signing 
of the declaration of principles here in Washington.  I don't want to 
set a particular date for that, but I hope it will be at an early time.

QUESTION:  Not everyone is euphoric about this.  Syria and Jordan have 
made it fairly clear they're not happy about Israel and the PLO striking 
a deal without their participation.  What can you do to reassure Hussein 
and Assad? 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I've been in touch with both the King and 
officials in Syria, and I would say that these tracks are 
interdependent, and they will move each other along.  I think that this 
agreement, when it is signed, will be a catalyst for progress on the 
other tracks.  So I view this as a positive development all the way 
across the board.

QUESTION:  Syria, if it could, could make this come unraveled.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't expect that to happen, frankly.  Perhaps 
I could put this in a somewhat broader context for your listeners, Bob.

The United States has been the sponsor of four different bilateral 
tracks and one multilateral track.  The bilateral tracks have been 
Israel and the Palestinians -- that is the one that is being talked 
about now -- but we've had negotiating tracks between Israel and Jordan, 
Israel and Lebanon, and Israel and Syria.  They are quite 
interdependent.  They pull each other along.  So I would think this is a 
positive development all the way across the board.

The multilateral track, involving as many as 30 nations, holds out the 
prospect for what peace could mean in the Middle East in terms of 
development, in terms of things like shared water rights, and so forth.

QUESTION:  Once the Palestinians take over the Gaza Strip, they're going 
to need a lot of financial help initially in just setting up basic 
services, such as water, sanitation and the like.  Will the United 
States come up with that money?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The United States, I think, will participate in 
the matter, but the funds, I think, will primarily come from others.  
Many in the Middle East have got a large stake in trying to make this 
successful.

The Gulf countries, countries around the world, I think, will be 
interested in participating.  The United States, as usual, will do its 
part, and I think we will try to help facilitate the contributions, but 
this will not be primarily a United States financial responsibility.

QUESTION:  Japan could be useful there maybe?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes, Japan could be useful.  They've already 
indicated a willingness to be useful.

QUESTION:  Now, in Israel, critics of this peace plan are saying that 
this was not wise at this time, because the PLO was coming unraveled.  
The PLO was disintegrating.  Now with this agreement they'll be getting 
financial help themselves.  It propped them up, in other words.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, there will be critics of the agreement on 
both sides, both extremes.  You don't have major historic changes like 
this take place without some turmoil, but I would think that working out 
an agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, represented by 
the PLO, is a very positive event, and, if you had Israel simply 
dominating the PLO, you'd be in for a long period of potential terror.

The prospect that this holds out is a diminishment, indeed, perhaps an 
end of the terror in the Middle East, and that would be a tremendous 
step ahead for mankind.

QUESTION:  Now that Israel is talking to the PLO, what about the United 
States?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, our position on the PLO has not changed at 
this time, but we're following developments very carefully.  This is a 
time of great ferment in the Middle East; and, as I say, we will be 
watching very carefully what the relationships are between Israel and 
the PLO.

QUESTION:  What assurances can the U.S. offer the Israelis and the 
Palestinians to move this process along?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think we can offer assurances that the world 
community will be supportive.  We will try to come forward with some 
financing to help the Palestinians accept the early empowerment that is 
called for in the agreement.  I think the United States can continue to 
play a facilitating role as we move through the very difficult 
implementation phase.

This is not all over.  One of the things you have to learn in diplomacy 
is that these major events have a long aftermath, and so we will have to 
be working away at implementation for some time.  The United States is 
not going to declare victory or stand aside.  We're going to say this is 
a huge step when it's signed, but we'll be working with them on 
implementation.

QUESTION:  Is there still a role for the Middle East peace talks you 
have going here in Washington?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Oh, absolutely.  There's a role on the other 
three tracks that I mentioned.  The Jordanians said yesterday that they 
felt they were very near to being able to have a declaration of 
principles which, of course, we've known for some time.  The other two 
tracks are proceeding with very active negotiations here -- that is, the 
Syrian and the Lebanese track.  So there is a continuing role.  This is 
the beginning.  It's not all over by any means.

QUESTION:  Well, you still have problems in Bosnia and Somalia.  When 
you went on vacation, you said NATO was resolved to take military action 
if the Serbs didn't lift the siege of Sarajevo.  Why hasn't NATO taken 
action?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, because there's been some improvement in 
Sarajevo.  We've been watching that very carefully.  The shelling of 
Sarajevo has come to an end.  At least, it has temporarily ceased.  Some 
food has been getting into Sarajevo, but we've not by any means 
abandoned that pledge.

If the Serbs continue to strangle Sarajevo, then NATO will be prepared 
to take its action.  But there has been some improvement on the ground -
- not nearly enough.  We are also looking at the peace process which 
was, of course, interrupted, tragically, yesterday.  But we're urging 
the parties to go back to the table in Geneva and have at least one more 
major try to see if they can't come to agreement.

Unsatisfactory as it is, it is better than going back to warfare with 
the winter coming on.

QUESTION:  What would prompt the United States to take military action 
in Bosnia?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  At the present time, we are committed to act 
through NATO.  NATO has taken a robust stand with respect to the 
possible strangulation of Sarajevo or of the other safe areas.  We're 
going to be following that course at the present time.

We certainly have not precluded action by the United States or other 
action.  As you know, it has long been our preference to lift the arms 
embargo and enable the Muslims to defend themselves and we've not ruled 
out that option either.

QUESTION:  In Somalia, the U.S. role was initially a humanitarian one.  
Some would say it's now a combat role?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I think we went into Somalia in order to 
try to end the starvation and create a situation where the people could 
be fed and get back to some kind of a civilized life.  Great strides 
were made in that connection, and I think we need to complete that 
process.

Mohamed Aideed stands as a real barrier to the completion of the process 
of creating law and order, creating a situation where people can be fed 
throughout the country.  Great progress has been made.  Hundreds of 
thousands of lives have been saved.  But I think the United States will 
not be finished there until we create a situation of relative law and 
order, at least, in south Mogadishu.

MR. EDWARDS:  Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you very much.


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