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U.S. Department of State
93/09/12 Interview on CBS's Face the Nation/Middle East Peace Agreement
Office of the Spokesman



                           INTERVIEW OF
              SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
                                BY BOB SCHIEFFER 
                       ON CBS-TV'S "FACE THE NATION"

                         Washington, D.C.
                        September 12, 1993



MR. BOB SCHIEFFER:  And here in the studio with us this morning, the 
Secretary of State.  Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us.  
It is going to be a remarkable sight tomorrow, to see on the same stage, 
on the White House south lawn, these two old enemies where this 
agreement is going to be signed.

It seems to me that the fact that Mr. Arafat and Mr. Rabin are here and 
will be on the stage does raise their level of commitment.  And it seems 
to me that the symbolism of this is almost as important as the signing 
of the agreement itself.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Absolutely, Bob.  It's very important, I think, 
that both of them are going to be here.  With respect to Mr. Arafat, it 
really puts him on the line.  He's out there before the entire world, 
committing to this agreement.  I think it's very desirable to have the 
physical presence of both Prime Minister Rabin and Mr. Arafat, because 
it commits them to this agreement in a way that would not have been 
possible had they been at some distance from it.

QUESTION:  Let me ask you a couple of things about the agreement.  Will 
Mr. Arafat and Mr. Rabin actually sign the document themselves?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  As I understand it now, it will be signed at the 
ministerial level.  That is, Foreign Minister Peres and whoever is 
acting as Foreign Minister for the PLO will actually sign the document.  
But it will be there, signed in front of Mr. Arafat and Prime Minister 
Rabin.

QUESTION:  Is there any reason for that, or does that concern you that 
the two of them will not sign it themselves?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Not at all.  I think it's quite appropriate to 
have the actual document signed by the two who actually negotiated it.  
I think Foreign Minister Peres played a very large role negotiating this 
on the Norwegian track, as we call it.  So I think it's very appropriate 
to have them sign it.

Foreign Minister Kozyrev of Russia and I will witness it.  So I think 
the signing and the witnessing being at the Foreign Minister level is 
very customary.  But what is important, both symbolically and 
substantively, is that the two leaders are there, and they're involved, 
and I think it's particularly important with respect to the PLO.  They 
have a rather unusual decision-making structure, and it's important that 
their top person be there.

QUESTION:  In some ways there are some difficulties, because this 
situation has been as it is for so long.  I notice that the Prime 
Minister's wife was quoted as saying it would be hard for her husband to 
shake hands with Mr. Arafat.  But do you think -- she said she thought 
that he would.  Do you think that they will actually shake hands?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Of course, that's up to them, Bob.  But this is 
going to be a monumental occasion, and I expect everyone present will 
act as statesmen, and I think you can expect to see them acting in a 
statesmanlike way.

QUESTION:  If they do shake hands, will the President join in a three-
way handshake?  I remember that -- the scene that we all remember -- 
when Mr. Begin and Mr. Sadat were in Washington with President Carter, 
the three of them with their hands together.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  You know, I remember that very well.  This is 
coming together so fast, Bob, I can't describe all the modalities to 
you, but I'm sure it's going to be a very momentous occasion, and the 
parties will do the right thing to symbolize the significance of this 
event.

QUESTION:  Well, let's talk about where U.S. policy and where this 
situation goes from here.  So once the agreement is signed, then will 
the President try to take advantage of having everybody in the same 
place at the same time?  Will there be meetings amongst them with you or 
the President participating?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I'm sure that they'll all be  together 
there at the White House for the signing, and, of course, there will be 
conversations around the edges of the signing.  I'm sure that the 
President will be meeting with some of the participants.

I expect to meet tomorrow afternoon with the PLO delegation, including 
Mr. Arafat.

QUESTION:  Oh, you will meet with Mr. Arafat.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's my understanding.

QUESTION:  And where will you receive him?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  In the State Department.  And won't that be an 
unusual event.

QUESTION:  Well, it will certainly be a sight to see Yasser Arafat 
walking into the U.S. State Department.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  An awful lot of taboos have been broken, Bob, in 
the last few days and will be in the next several days.

QUESTION:  Would you expect the President also to meet privately with 
Mr. Arafat or --

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I'm not sure that will happen.  We'll just have 
to wait and see how that evolves.  They will certainly be there together 
at the ceremony, and they will be talking together.  A number of things 
are developing over these very hectic time-pressured days, but I do 
expect to be meeting with him myself in the afternoon tomorrow.

QUESTION:  And what will you talk about?  What is on your agenda for 
this talk?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I'll be wanting to talk to him about how 
we move from the signing to actually carrying it into effect.  It's 
important to know what this is and what it isn't.  It certainly is a 
momentous event.  It really is a -- I use the word "historic" quite 
carefully, but no doubt this is an historic event.

On the other hand, this is only an interim agreement.  This Declaration 
of Principles provides for steps to be taken to produce more actual 
Palestinian control of the situation on the West Bank.  So I would be 
talking with him about how we move from this Declaration of Principles 
through the interim period, through the early empowerment of the 
Palestinians, so they can  demonstrate their ability to be effective on 
the ground and in taking over such matters as health and welfare and 
taxation.

So there are a number of things to be talked about as we move from this 
historic signing through the interim period, and then two years from 
now, the negotiations to begin on the permanent status.  So there's a 
long way to go, but this really is a change that cannot be reversed.

QUESTION:  Tom Friedman, who will be on this broadcast later as part of 
our roundtable, had what I must say was an extraordinary interview with 
the President yesterday about all of this.  And one of the things that 
the President reported was that he had had a very good conversation with 
President Hafez al-Assad of Syria who said he will support the 
agreement.  But, as the President told it, Mr. Assad said, "It cannot 
stand alone."

Now, what happens for negotiations between Israel and Syria?  Are you 
prepared to try to push those along, and what part is the United States 
going to play in that?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, we'll certainly play whatever role the 
parties want us to play.  We've been quite active on that track.  As you 
know, there are three other bilateral tracks, in addition to the 
Palestinian track -- a track between Israel and Jordan, Israel and 
Lebanon, and Israel and Syria.  And I think this agreement will provide 
a catalyst, an impetus, to make progress on the other tracks.

The Syrian track is certainly an essential track.  I've had long 
conversations with both Prime Minister Rabin and President Assad.  I 
hope that we can move forward.  Now there's a question here as to 
whether or not Prime Minister Rabin can take these actions in the very 
near future, so we'll be looking to the parties.

But I think what President Clinton has directed me to do is to be 
available to the parties, to be helpful to them in trying to move along 
on the other tracks, because no doubt President Assad is correct when he 
says, "This needs to be comprehensive."  Peace in the Middle East has 
never just been in one piece; the pieces interact with each other.

QUESTION:  Well, are you preparing to go to the Middle East to move this 
along or --

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't have any specific plans at the present 
time, but I won't be at all surprised if I'm back there again in the 
relatively near future.

QUESTION:  Well, you know what Mr. Assad wants.  I mean, the issues are 
clearly defined.  He wants the Israelis to get out of the Golan Heights.  
What are you prepared to do along that line?  How can the United States 
-- is that a good thing?  Would we eventually like to see that happen, 
and how would that come about?  What happens from here on?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Bob, the goals for both sides are relatively 
simply stated.  The Israelis are looking for a full peace and the 
Syrians are looking for full withdrawal.  But beneath that simplicity is 
a great deal of complexity, a number of difficult issues.  What the 
United States can do, if the parties want us to, is to serve as an 
intermediary, helping them reach the issues that underlie those 
simplicities.  That's, I think, where I have been working in the past 
and will continue to work in the future.

As far as the United States' role, as you know we've had an important 
role in connection with the Egypt agreement.  We provide a level of 
security in the Sinai, and there may be a comparable role for the United 
States in the Golan Heights to give an assurance of security to Israel.

QUESTION:  Let's talks about that just a little bit, because that was 
the next question.  What does that mean when you say "provide some level 
of security in the Golan Heights?"  Does that mean U.S. troops there?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me first say, Bob, this agreement does not 
in any way diminish the commitment the United States has to Israel's 
security.  The United States supports this agreement between the 
Palestinians and Israel.  But, nevertheless, our bedrock commitment to 
Israel for its security remains.  We would approach any new agreement 
between Israel and Syria in the same spirit, and so it might well mean 
some kind of United states forces in the Golan just as we've long 
provided forces in the Sinai to help ensure the security of Israel.

QUESTION:  What size force would that require, just to --

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think it's much too early to talk about that.  
I'm always quite cautious in talking about the size of military forces.  
But that's something that as they get nearer to an agreement, that will 
have to come into play.

QUESTION:  But you're saying that you're prepared, and you recognize 
that that might have to be a part of any future agreement is the 
presence of U.S. forces in the Golan?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Absolutely.  One thing I'd want to stress here, 
Bob, is the continuity of these discussions over the years.  This has 
never been a partisan issue.  It has always been a bipartisan issue.

This agreement could not have been possible without the Madrid 
Conference, which was launched by President Bush and Secretary Baker.  
This agreement we're going to sign tomorrow would not have been possible 
without the Camp David agreement.

I mention that because of the possibility of our providing security in 
the Golan area was mentioned at the time of the Madrid Conference.  So 
this is not anything that's brand new.  The nature of it, the precision 
of it, of course, is all to be determined.

QUESTION:  Alright.  Mr. Secretary, let's take a break here.  We'll come 
back and talk about this and a couple of other issues in just a minute.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you very much.

[Commercial pause]

MR. SCHIEFFER:  We're back with Secretary of State Christopher.

Mr. Christopher, let me ask you this question:  Is it your belief that 
Yasser Arafat can control the fundamentalists of the Arab world who are 
very much against this agreement and seem bent on trying to wreck it?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There's no doubt that there are a number of 
enemies of the peace process out there.  But I think the stand that Mr. 
Arafat has taken and the degree of support he's gotten indicates that 
there's a strong momentum for this.  I think the Palestinians themselves 
will come to feel the same thing.  They want the same thing for their 
families that people all over the world want.  They want to have their 
children grown up, be able to go to school and progress, so I think 
there will be a good deal of support.

I hope that Yasser Arafat is able to exercise the kind of control that 
he committed himself to in the letter to the Israelis.  His letter to 
Prime Minister Rabin indicated that they took responsibility for 
disciplining the elements of the PLO that had been discordant and 
violent in the past.

QUESTION:  Let me just ask you this.  Does the United States feel some 
new responsibility to help Mr. Arafat with his own  security?  
Obviously, he is in more danger now than he was before.  Would we do 
such things as share our intelligence with him now if there are threats 
on him?  Would we be prepared to offer him some kind of security?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It's a whole new world, Bob.  We'll have to 
analyze that kind of situation.  But, clearly, we want to have a 
diminishment of the violence out there; and anything that we can do to 
cooperate with the parties, to make sure that doesn't happen, we will 
do.  At the same time, as I say, these are relationships that are just 
developing.  We're all blinking our eyes at how much is new.

QUESTION:  Alright, let's talk a little bit about something else.  
Secretary of Defense Aspin this morning, in Brussels I believe, made a 
speech wherein he said that if there is some sort of a partition 
agreement in Bosnia, the United States would be prepared to put some 
troops in there as part of a U.N. force.  He mentioned a total of as 
many as 25,000 U.S. troops in Bosnia.  What can you tell us about that?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Bob, as I said a few minutes ago, I'm quite 
cautious in talking about U.S. troop numbers.  It's more appropriate for 
Mr. Aspin to be talking about that.  But what I would stress is that, 
unfortunately, there is not an agreement yet.  The degree of our 
commitment will depend upon the nature of the agreement, whether it's 
one that we judge to have been entered into by the parties in good 
faith; what the enforcement provisions of it are; what our consultations 
on Capitol Hill indicate.  So there's quite a distance, I think, between 
the present time and any commitment of United States troops.

We have said that we would be prepared to cooperate with other countries 
in an effort to implement an agreement, if an agreement is reached in 
good faith.  I think that commitment stands out there.

I would want to emphasize that we would intend to do this through NATO, 
as a part of NATO, working with the military forces that we have longed 
worked with and we have great confidence in.

QUESTION:  I'd like to ask you some more details on that, but we don't 
have much time.

Let me shift to Somalia.  There's new concern being raised in the Senate 
this week.  CBS reported on Friday that even the U.S. commander in 
Somalia wrote Colin Powell a letter and said, "We're on the wrong track 
here."  First of all, can you confirm whether or not such a letter was 
written?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  No, I can't.  What I can say is that General 
Powell said yesterday that the United States should not cut and run, 
that we needed to have a sustained commitment here.

As you know -- I'd step back from that just for a second, Bob.  This was 
an endeavor began by President Bush just before the end of last year.  
We sent 30,000 troops there.  I'm sure we've saved hundreds of thousands 
of lives because the warlords were preventing food from getting through 
and there was widespread starvation.

QUESTION:  But if I might just add, that part of the mission seems to be 
over, and critics say that it has shifted from a humanitarian mission to 
a military campaign to track down this warlord.  Has the mission changed 
there?  And how long is -- we can't cut and run.  How long does that 
hold up?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Bob, there's not quite as neat a separation as 
that question would imply.  The warlords, I think, are trying to return 
the situation to the way it was when there was mass starvation.

General Aideed is one of the warlords that caused the situation as it 
existed before.  He was involved, as you know, in the death of the 
Pakistanis, probably involved in the death of the American troops.  So 
what the United States wants to prevent is to have the situation going 
back to the tragic situation where it was before.  There's no very neat 
separation.

Now, we will be glad when law and order is restored enough so the matter 
can be totally turned over to the United Nations.  This endeavor comes 
in two parts -- the United States humanitarian endeavor and then the 
United Nations nation-building endeavor.  But they're not entirely 
separable.  And what we want to avoid at the present time -- and I'm 
sure what General Powell had in mind -- is if we were to leave right 
now, if we were to cut and run and let Aideed have his sway, we might 
very well be back to that condition of mass starvation which we went 
there to protect.

MR. SCHIEFFER:  Alright.  We'll leave it at that, Mr. Secretary.  Thank 
you so much, and we'll look forward to the events of tomorrow.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you very much, Bob.

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