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U.S. Department of State
93/10/01 Press Conf. with Sec. Bentsen & Russian ForMin on Middle East
Office of the Spokesman

                     U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                     Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release                         October 1, 1993

                       PRESS CONFERENCE BY

                         Washington, D.C.
                         October 1, 1993

MR. McCURRY:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  I'd like to welcome 
you to the Conference to Support Middle East Peace.  Secretary of State 
Christopher and Secretary of the Treasury Bentsen will make opening 
remarks on behalf of the Conference co-sponsors -- the United States and 
the Russian Federation.

Following the opening statements on behalf of the conference co-
sponsors, the Ministers and other representatives seated on the stage 
will be glad to take your questions from the microphones placed in the 

Secretary Christopher.


It was only 19 days ago that the world witnessed on the White House lawn 
an historic turning point in the Middle East.  One week later the United 
States issued a call for a Donors Conference to make that breakthrough 
irreversible.  Today we can say with confidence that never before has 
the international community moved so purposefully and with such urgency 
to build a lasting peace.  I can say to you with confidence that the 
meeting this morning has been a striking success.

On behalf of the United States and our Russian co-sponsors, represented 
by Foreign Minister Kozyrev and Finance Minister Federov, Secretary 
Bentsen and I are delighted to summarize the results of the conference.

The number and broad range of participants in this conference exceeded 
our expectations.  The conference brought together 46 delegations from 
around the globe.  Indeed, for the first time in my memory, nations 
actually requested invitations to a  Donors Conference.  That remarkable 
response reflects the new political landscape and the new sense of 
optimism that has emerged in the Middle East.  Those contributions 
pledged today reflected a genuine and sincere and generous commitment, 
as Secretary Bentsen will describe in a moment.  This assistance gives 
us every reason to expect that the needs foreseen in the World Bank's 
estimates will be met in the years ahead.

The Palestinians have already taken the critical step of creating a 
mechanism to work with the World Bank and others to establish priorities 
and sound development policies.  The major donors and the World Bank 
will work together to ensure that the assistance is cost-effective, that 
it will produce tangible results on the ground, and that it will spur 
long-term economic growth.  We must work together to help Israel move to 
a productive new relationship with her Palestinian neighbors.

For more than 40 years the world has sought a just and lasting peace in 
the Middle East.  Now we have seen a soaring achievement by the Israelis 
and the Palestinians, an extraordinary show of support by the 
international community.  Certainly our work together has only begun, 
but we can be greatly encouraged by the unprecedented moral and material 
commitment that has been made today.

Now I'll introduce my colleague, Secretary Bentsen, for the information 
you really are interested in.

Secretary Bentsen.

SECRETARY BENTSEN:  Well, I'm delighted to join my colleague, Secretary 

This is an incredible response, as you've seen, in such a short period 
of term.  To think it was only some three weeks ago that that historic 
handshake took place and less than two weeks ago when we announced this 
meeting and then have these representatives from around the world coming 
to pledge their assistance.

What you're looking at here is again how important this economic 
structure is for the future because you must see in this West Bank and 
Gaza an improving economy, one that will lead to prosperity and the 
success of this venture.

We've had about 50 nations and international organizations that have 
come together to bring about this show of support for the Middle East 

As you know, there are very immediate and pressing needs in the West 
Bank, and they have to be attended [to] quickly.  

I'm gratified that there are pledges for over $600 million for that 
critical first year.  Over two years it will reach a billion dollars.  
Commitments made today approach $2 billion over the five years; and, 
with the continuation of the maintenance of effort in this from the 
donors that we have seen, I am confident that we will exceed the $2.4 
billion that the World Bank estimates to be the needs over five years.

You'll find some of the fine points of what we agreed to do in the 
longer statement which we are handing out.  But I want to point out the 
broad role of the multilateral institutions in this effort.  We're 
calling on the World Bank to play an important role, as well as the 
United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the U.N. Development Program, 
and the IMF.

As donor nations, we agreed we should support urgent relief efforts and 
start rehabilitating the existing infrastructure.  That in itself is a 
challenge.  But we also agreed that we must do more.  We must help the 
Palestinians as they work to organize and manage their own political, 
economic, and social affairs.

The donors have agreed to start an extensive program of technical 
assistance to build the institutions of government and to train 

The close cooperation of the Palestinians and the Israelis will be 
essential in every area of institution-building.  One of the critical 
needs will be creating a revenue-sharing system and a local revenue-
collection system which a Secretary of the Treasury can have a full 
appreciation for.

Over the longer term, we agreed that promoting both public and private 
investment will launch the West Bank and the Gaza on a path of growth.  
We have a five-year program to make investments in physical and social 
infrastructure, as well as in the areas of their productive capacity.

The representatives of both the Palestinian community and Israel and the 
private donors stressed the part the private sector will play in this -- 
through lunch and talking to the PLO representative and hearing him talk 
of the interest of Palestinians back in the Gaza and the West Bank and 
what he anticipates in the way of private capital coming to that area.

The Palestinians have acknowledged how very important it is to have an 
environment that encourages private investment, and donors will 
encourage private investment through incentive programs.

Conference participants also stressed the need to address the 
development of the West Bank and the Gaza in its regional  context, and 
there was agreement that free trade is certainly needed through the 

And, finally, we have a shared concern -- Secretary Christopher and I -- 
that the assistance we are pledging be managed as efficiently as 
possible, as there will be close cooperation among major donors and the 
World Bank to meet that goal.

Thank you.

MR. McCURRY:  Questions will be recognized from either of the two 

QUESTION:  My name is Abdul Salaam Massareuh.  I'm with the Jerusalem 
Press Service here in Washington.

Mr. Secretary Christopher and Mr. Secretary Bentsen and Mr. Secretary 
Kozyrev, in the last, I think, 48 hours the PLO handed Israel a very 
strong protest about the imprisonment and the siege that they held 
around the city or the town of Qabatia on the West Bank and there is 
indication of Palestinian activists.  The demarche was very strong and 
the Palestinians requested that this will be lifted and the Palestinians 
will be returned home. 

The second point, Mr. Christopher:  You know that there is unemployment, 
there is poverty and starvation, in the Gaza Strip -- over 60 percent 
unemployment.  What are the immediate steps that the donors, the U.S. 
Administration, and the Russian colleagues and friends and the whole 
world is going to do to try to bring an immediate infusion of funds to 
help the Palestinian families who go home hungry every night?

Thanks, sir.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, from the very beginning of this effort 
over the last 19 days, President Clinton has stressed the need for some 
very early programs; and that's been common ground among all of us.  It 
was stressed over and over again at the meeting this morning.  The 
United States is preparing a list of things that can be done 
immediately.  And as we proceed over the next few days and as we give 
you further detail, you'll see that there's going to be action taken 
there in that area -- not over a one-year or two-year period; within the 
next several months -- because we all realize that the people on the 
ground have to see the results of this agreement.  There has to be some 
indication that it will succeed and be successful.

In connection with the protest, I'd just simply say to you that I've 
been so focused on this conference today that I've not dealt with that 
and we'll respond to that at a later time.

MR. MCCURRY:  Ralph?

QUESTION:  May I address my question to the World Bank representative, 
please?  I'm afraid I don't recognize you.  Is that Mr. Preston?


QUESTION:  I'd like to request -- I think there are many people who 
wonder how this money, being sent in as quickly as it can, will be 
audited to make sure it's spent on concrete projects to improve 
conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and not on other 
kinds of projects and not be lost in bureaucracy that's hastily 
established for this purpose. Can you tell us what steps will be taken?  
How will the people who are contributing this money know that it's being 
properly spent?

MR. PRESTON:  Well, I think in terms of the short-term aid you should 
recognize that there are a number of United Nations organizations active 
in the area.  A number of the donors are active, and the World Bank has 
no intention of replacing those existing Agencies who've done an 
excellent job.  They will get additional funding as a consequence of 
this effort, and we will be devoting ourselves to the longer-term 
projects and getting the institutional organizations in place so that 
the proper supervision can take place.

MR. McCURRY:  Can I ask if you have a question to pose, please proceed 
to either one of the two microphones, and we'll call in order.  The next 
question is Mary Curtis.  Well, we'll amend that.  The next question is 
the faster-moving Jack McWethy.  (Laughter.)  Go ahead.  (Indicating Ms 

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, I wonder if you could address the dispute 
between the European Community and the United States over a steering 
mechanism, which is actually a follow-on to Ralph Begleiter's question.

My understanding, both in the speeches given here today and in talking 
to European diplomats, is that the Europeans disagree with the United 
States, that the United States wants to create a steering committee and 
the Europeans do not want to create such a mechanism and say it's an 
unnecessary bureaucracy.

Is there a dispute, and how do you propose to resolve it, if there is?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, we've been consulting with the major 
donors about the best mechanism to carry forward these arrangements to 
insure that they will be done efficiently and prudently.  The best 
thinking now seems to be that there will  be a liaison committee 
consisting of the major donors who will work together with the World 
Bank as the secretariat. 

I think we have come into agreement on that.  It's not surprising that 
given the speed with which all this has gone together, as I said, over a 
period of nineteen days that we've been working through some of the 
arrangements, but I do not believe there is any longer any difference of 
opinion on this, and that we'll be able to announce with precision 
precisely what that liaison group will be.

But I think we are well organized on that now, and I don't expect there 
to be a problem.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MR. McCURRY:  Mr. McWethy.

QUESTION:  For Secretary Christopher.  You seem to make an allusion in 
your statement earlier today, this morning, about the kind of message 
this sends to other parties in the Middle East.

Can you direct your attention to the Syrians, in particular, and give us 
your impressions as to what this conference today says to them about the 
need to proceed?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I was directing my comments this morning 
to those who were the enemies of this process who would try to find some 
way to disrupt it.  The Syrians have not done that, to this point.  They 
have not indicated opposition to the process.

I really want to emphasize that those who support this process will 
receive the approbation of the international community, but those who 
try to disrupt it, those who try to interfere with it, I think will find 
the international community lined up against them.

The tremendous turn-out today is some reflection of the broad-scale 
support that these agreements have, and I think it should be a message 
to those who would try to move to in any way disrupt it or discredit it.

With respect to the Syrians, I would say that the agreement in today's 
conference ought to be a reason for them to feel that we are all working 
toward a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.  The title of the 
conference is to support the Middle East peace process, not a single 
bilateral track, and I hope that the Syrians will see in this the 
beginning of the search for a broader and more comprehensive peace in 
the Middle East.

QUESTION:  But my question deals with, would you anticipate that there 
would be donor conferences if the Syrians decided to  step up and have a 
peace agreement.  Is this financial backing the kind of thing that can 
be transferred to other settlements?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, the situations are really quite different.  
You have the occupied territories of the West Bank in a situation of 
great financial distress.  If there is an agreement between Israel and 
Syria, it will have its own connotations and its own aspects, but I 
think there are no two situations exactly alike, but I think that this 
meeting today shows that the international community is strongly in 
favor of the search for peace in the Middle East, and I would expect 
there to be similar backing, although quite different perhaps, similar 
in over-all support for other tracks if they reach the kind of positive 
settlement that was reached here.

QUESTION:  This question might be addressed best to either Mr. Preston 
or Secretary Bentsen.

There was a Palestinian estimate of the amount of money needed over a 
seven year period and it came out to be something like $ll.6 billion; 
$3.3 which would be raised domestically or through local investment.  
Even with that and even assuming that they are including the 600,000 
returnee refugees, there still seems to be a vast disparity between the 
World Bank figure of $2.4 for the five year period, or three, depending 
on who you are talking to, and what the Palestinians are saying.

Is this disparity real, or is it just a different way of accounting?

SECRETARY BENTSEN;  Well, I have found historically that when you are 
talking about funds, and particularly for bringing together people from 
around the world, Palestinians that will want to be there, one would 
assume, that they will choose some high numbers.

I would say that the World Bank, very fortunately for us, had a 
sophisticated study that has been made on sight, and we have confidence 
in those numbers.  But let me further state that without a question, 
this is an on-going process, and economics, that's going to play a very 
major role.  And we feel that much of this money also will come through 
private investment that would help supplement what we are talking about 
from the World Bank, what we are talking about from the major donor 

MR. McCURRY:  Mr. Preston, do you want to add anything?  No?  Next 
question, right here, please.

QUESTION:  Matilly Marten, Le Soir.  This dispute between the EC and the 
U.S. we were told is not over with.  The EC had been insisting lately on 
a representative role.  I was wondering if one of its representatives 
could tell us if its participation  in a donor committee is that 
representative role they were seeking?

FOREIGN MINISTER CLAES:  May I underline that the Europeans are here as 
partners, not as enemies.  All the donors are willing, of course, to 
stimulate the economic and social development in the so-called occupied 
territories.  And all the donors are willing to obtain as soon as 
possible concrete results.

That's the reason we, but not only we, were asking for a light 
instrument, flexible, adaptable, and we believe that the so-called track 
liaison committee is a good formula, where the different donors, the 
Palestinians and the Israelis, will meet together.

What can be done in this committee?  First of all, I suppose this 
committee will play the role of a clearing house.  But, secondly, I can 
imagine that we will be confronted with very important investment 
projects, needing cooperation of several donors, needing coordination.  

We admit that the World Bank is going to play the role of expert, of 
course, I suppose, in cooperation with other institutions, having 
developed experience and know-how in the regions, as, for example, the 
European Investment Bank.

May I stress that the working groups, as created the multilateral 
working groups, as created in the free world of the Madrid Conference, 
are going on to play their role.

So, ladies and gentlemen, there is no dispute.  On the contrary, we are 
ready to work together in order to start immediately in order to obtain 
concrete results.

Thank you.

QUESTION:  My questions are directed, please, to Secretary Christopher.  
I assume, Mr. Secretary, that you are the chairman of the program here, 
and that you will be in charge of the flow of donations and so on to the 
World Bank, or however that's going to work.  And then I'd like a 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, we were a chair of this conference along 
with the Russian co-chairs, and we'll be following through on this 
matter to try to make sure that the funds that were pledged today reach 
this coordinating mechanism that's going to be set up, the liaison 
committee, and the World Bank as secretariat.  The United States will 
certainly not draw back from its leadership role in this area.  On the 
other hand, as Foreign Minister Claes said, we're in this as partners, 
and we don't want to take an unduly significant role.  We just want to 
get the job done.

QUESTION:  I'm sorry, I didn't introduce myself.  My name is Joseph 
Polakoff.  I write for Jewish newspapers.  My second question is before 
the flow of money goes into the area, apart from the immediate need for 
the people who are in desperate need, will that money be withheld until 
the PLO irrevocably rescinds all the elements in its covenant that 
pertain to Israel?  And, secondly, the Arab countries apparently have 
said the end of the boycott is not coming.  It's still in effect.  As a 
matter of fact, it might even increase, the economic boycott of Israel, 
that is.  And will that be handled by this group that is dealing with 
the donations?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  With respect to your first question, we expect 
the PLO to carry out the commitment that they made to Israel in the 
bilateral agreement that was signed and announced at the White House.

On the second aspect of the matter, I think this group that's been set 
up, this liaison group, is to try to handle the funds that are being 
collected here and put them to good use in the occupied territories.  I 
don't think it assays a broad political role.

We have been urging the parties in the region to recognize the 
significance of this major step in various other ways:  to the meetings 
they hold, to the statements they make, to the decisions they make with 
respect to the boycott or recognition.   But those are sovereign 
decisions and I don't think this group -- they will have enough to do in 
disbursing these funds effectively.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, do you suppose it would be fair for this group 
to state formally to the Arab nations participating in the boycott, the 
Arab League, that it should rescind this element that's impeding 
progress in the Middle East?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  This group was drawn together as a Donors 
Conference, and I don't want to try to commit them to any broader or any 
different political purpose.  As I say, I think we'll have enough to do 
to carry out the very major task that's been undertaken here.

MR. McCURRY:  Let's try to restrict follow-up questions.  Mark.

QUESTION:  Can you tell us if the World Bank target is $2.4 billion or 
$2.5?  And, secondly, Secretary Christopher, could you comment on the 
fact that of the Persian Gulf countries, only Saudi Arabia has pledged a 
specific dollar amount?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  As Secretary Bentsen said, this is a situation 
that's evolving very rapidly.  It was only a week or  so ago that the 
World Bank estimated $3 billion over ten years.  I'm sure that Mr. 
Preston can say whether it's $2.4 or $2.5 billion.  But the important 
thing is that the conference here today was a striking success, however 
you measure it -- $600 million over the first year.  If you extrapolate 
that, that will well exceed over the five-year period the World Bank 
target, whether it's 2.4 or 2.5.  

With respect to the other Persian Gulf countries, I'm not sure, Mark, 
that your facts are exactly right.  As I recall, the UAE pledged a 
specific amount.  I would say that this conference has come together 
very rapidly.  Of the 46 countries, I suppose there are some place 
between five and ten who quite understandably said that they had not 
been able to take a governmental decision and would be getting back to 
the group in the near future.

As to any specific country, I would suggest you direct your questions to 
them -- they're all here in the audience -- rather than for me to try to 
answer them.  Thank you.

MR. McCURRY:  A question over here.

QUESTION:  I am Eli (inaudible).  I am with (inaudible) TV.  My question 
is for Minister Kozyrev, and it will be in Russian.

(Through interpreter)  Mr. Minister, what size will be the Russian 
contribution, and does Russia plan to offer some other type of 
assistance to this region, perhaps technical assistance?

FOREIGN MINISTER KOZYREV:  Yes, do we plan to offer assistance.  First, 
political, because only the first step has been taken.  This is a very 
important step, it's breakthrough, but it is very important that there 
be other measures, and that it be followed up not by counter-
accusations, exchange of accusations, but work in all directions of 
resolving and in the long run a comprehensive peace.

And, second, in terms of economic assistance, we plan to assist mainly 
within frameworks of technical assistance program through specialists, 
building of roads, infrastructures and water management systems and 
other projects of this sort -- preparation and training of personnel.

I think that there is a special niche which we can fill.  And in the 
future I think as the program progresses we will also have a role.  
Thank you.

QUESTION:  A question for Mr. Kozyrev.  I'm Gary Lane, CBN News here in 
Washington.  Mr. Foreign Minister, with all due respect, sir, how can 
your nation expect in the unstable situation in Russia to promote 
stability in the Middle East at this time credibly?  And I'd like to 
follow up, please.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOZYREV:  Please, I answer both.  Please do, follow.

QUESTION:  The follow-up question would be your people have had a long-
time relationship with Syria.  What have your discussions been with the 
Syrians to get them to jump on this bandwagon to a comprehensive peace 
in the Middle East?  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOZYREV:  That's what I suspected, that the second 
question would make much more sense than the first one.  (Laughter and 
applause)  Thank you very much for the second one.

Really, we have a long history of good relations with Arab participants 
and not so long but a very encouraging history of good relations with 
Israel.  And I hope that this historic ties and practical political 
needs would help us to encourage parties, especially on the Syrian and 
Israeli track which is to my mind the priority after this particular 
achievement in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations to reach a compromise 
which would lead also to comprehensive peace in the Middle East.  This 
is very high on our agenda.  Thank you.

MR. McCURRY:  Last two questions here.

QUESTION:  My question is to Mr. Christopher.  Mr. Christopher, 
Jerusalem is the lifeline of the Palestinians, especially in the field 
of education and health.  Will these funds be allowed or available to 
the Palestinians to be used in Jerusalem to revive the institutions in 
Jerusalem or it's going to be waited for the final status negotiations.  
I have another question.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  As has been said many times, Jerusalem is one of 
the most sensitive aspects of this and the parties have quite 
understandably postponed any discussion of it for the final status.  The 
Declaration of Principles between Israel and the Palestinians recognizes 
that, and so I think you're correct in saying that that will await the 
final status negotiations.

QUESTION:  My second question is, many Foreign Ministers and Prime 
Ministers in New York asked you to visit the area, especially to push 
the Lebanese-Syrian track.  Do you have any plans to visit the Middle 
East very soon?  Thank you.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I really am involved in this to serve the 
parties, to try to facilitate the negotiations.  I'll be prepared to go 
back to the Middle East whenever the parties think it will be useful to 
them.  I think the situation is now that we're moving as rapidly as we 
can to achieve what's been done here today, and, as I say, I'll be glad  
to go back to the Middle East whenever the parties think it would be 

MR. McCURRY:  Last question.

QUESTION:  Stephen Greenhouse, New York Times.  I address this to 
Secretary Christopher or Secretary Bentsen.  (Laughter)

It involves money.  Maybe I'll address it to Secretary Bentsen.  I'd 
like to ask more specifically what you have in mind in terms of the 
mechanism or vehicle the Palestinians will use to receive and distribute 
the money.  Has there been much discussion on that over the past 24 
hours?  Will it be this new Palestinian economic development and 
reconstruction authority?  Will it be the new civil administration?  
What role will the United Nations play?

SECRETARY BENTSEN:  Stephen, I would say, obviously, we're not -- don't 
have it fully defined yet.  But what you're going to see -- insofar as 
the immediacy, you're going to see the United Nations doing its help 
there -- UNRWA and the rest.  You need things in the pipeline to give an 
immediate effect, and that will be done.  When you're looking at those 
things with the World Bank and what will be done through the consulting 
committee that will meet periodically, there you're getting more into 
the infrastructure and those things that are necessary in the way of 
water and sewage and roads and bridges -- the more long-term things.

But it's a constantly evolving thing where the economics are going to be 
paramount, and it is terribly important that the private sector be 
involved in this.  It is not enough just to have the public funds or 
from the donor nations, but that we have something that will be of 
continuing growth and will become self-sustaining.  That's the 
objective, I think, of all these donor nations.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Stephen, I might supplement that.  I believe 
Secretary Bentsen was out of the room today when the Palestinian 
representative indicated that they have created a new committee called -
- I believe the title is something like the Emergency Committee on 
Reconstruction and Rehabilitation.  He told me that it would be 
constituted of the leading economists and businessmen the Palestinians 
had gathered together.  But I suggest you talk to the Palestinian 
representatives here, because he indicated that they have focused over 
the last 19 days very hard on that and have now created that kind of a 
committee which would be useful in the dispensing of the funds.

MR. McCURRY:  Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.  That concludes 
the press conference.


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