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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
95/06/07 Briefing on the Middle East Peace Process
Office of the Spokesman


 
                        U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                        Office of the Spokesman 
 
             (En Route Washington, D.C. to Shannon, Ireland) 
 
___________________________________________________________________ 
For Immediate Release                                  June 7, 1995 
 
 
                        ON THE RECORD BRIEFING  
                                 BY  
                  SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER  
                     ON THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 
 
                            June 7, 1995 
 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Thank you all for joining me on this expedition.  
I thought I might give you a little perspective on the trip on the way 
out.  It seems to me that we go out this time in a moment of real 
momentum in the peace process.  Generally speaking, we have a heavy 
responsibility to protect the process and help it along and sometimes 
that means making a trip to put it back on track.  I think this time 
it's more in the category of seeing an opportunity to build up the 
momentum, to encourage the parties to achieve a faster pace.  In a 
sense, I think we're in a new phase, both on the Palestinian track as 
well as the Syrian track.   
 
On the Palestinian track, as you know, the parties have set for 
themselves a July 1 deadline to see if they can't move beyond the second 
phase of the Declaration of Principles.  That involves three very sticky 
issues: elections and further governmental powers being transferred to 
the Palestinians and finally redeployment.  It's a very severe challenge 
for the parties but they seem to be in a very problem-solving mode.  I 
think they're getting to know each other better.  One key factor is that 
the Israelis and Prime Minister Rabin feel that Chairman Arafat is doing 
a much better job on the issue of terrorism, on the issue of controlling 
the Islamic terrorists.  I think that's served to help and give some 
momentum on this track. 
 
On the Syrian track, what is has produced is a good deal of momentum on 
the agreement on the framework and the fact that the parties have agreed 
that senior military experts will be meeting in Washington before the 
end of June.  I will be meeting with President Asad, Prime Minister 
Rabin, Foreign Minister Peres in connection with this track. As you 
know, Dennis Ross has been out there for several days.  He met with 
Rabin and Asad as well as meeting with Shihabi, the chief of staff of 
the Syrian military. 
 
There have been two very important telephone calls.  The President has 
in effect foreshadowed and given a big boost to my trip by yesterday 
calling Asad and today calling Rabin.  Both of those conversations show 
a good deal of promise and real determination on the part of those 
parties to work hard and sense a need for acceleration.  But I caution 
you, there are serious, substantial gaps and it will take a lot of work 
for both of them.   
 
On the Syrian track, the parties are now getting down to the details of 
the security issues now that they have the agreement on some basic 
framework and fundamental principles.  I'll be meeting with Asad - I 
think that's set now for Saturday.  You probably - changing the subject 
- with respect to Egypt, you probably have heard some indications about 
the possibility of  a meeting between Mubarak, Rabin and myself.  That 
remains a possibility  and we are pursuing it.  There are some 
logistical problems but we are still hoping to see if we can have that 
kind of a trilateral meeting.   As many of you who make these trips so 
often with me know, I almost never go out here without stopping by in 
Cairo because I think the Egyptians have played, and continue to play, 
such a constructive role in moving the peace process along.  So the day 
that I'll be going to Cairo, there's a possibility of a three way 
meeting which I think could be very significant.  I hope to know about 
that and be able to inform you about that tomorrow.   
 
Before the end of the trip, I plan to meet with Chairman Arafat in 
Jericho and then go over to Amman to meet with King Hussein.  The King 
has taken very substantial risks for peace and we think it's important 
to be responsive to his needs and concerns.  We'll be talking with him 
in that vein.  We'll also be talking about the forthcoming Amman Summit 
which I think is a reflection of how the Middle East has moved in the 
last two years.  The Amman Summit will continue to build on the 
Casablanca Summit which had promising business openings for the Middle 
East.  
 
In an overall sense, just to repeat myself, I think that I go out in a 
moment when there is an opportunity for considerable progress, although 
great and severe difficulties on both tracks remain.  But there are 
genuine opportunities and I've taken the advantage of these short trips, 
squeezing them in between other trips, because I think it is so 
important for me to get out into the region and do what the United 
States has been doing in this region for a long time and that is trying 
to encourage and help the parties make progress towards peace. 
 
I'll be glad to take a few questions. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, what would you hope to accomplish by a three-
way meeting in Cairo?   
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, there have been some difficulties between 
Egypt and Israel, and I would think a three-way meeting might ensure 
that the parties are working together on the peace process and try to 
ensure that we have the full support and cooperation of Egypt in the 
peace process.  I think a meeting between Prime Minister Rabin and 
President Mubarak would have the effect of putting behind them some of 
the difficulties they have had in recent months.  But in any event, they 
are doing their daily commitment to the peace process and ensuring that 
the Egyptians would continue to be as helpful as they've been in the 
past, to move forward on the peace process. 
 
QUESTION:  Did Mubarak get anything out of his recent meeting in 
Damascus with President Asad?  Did you hear anything about his efforts 
in Damascus? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't know any more about that meeting than 
I've read in the press.  I look forward to hearing from him.  One of the 
reasons I'm going to Cairo is to get his first-hand impression on that 
meeting. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, in the discussion on the equality between 
Israel and Syria, in his recent negotiation over the meeting between the 
chiefs of staff, did Syria ask to be given equal amounts of sensing 
equipment and so forth -- intelligence -- from the United States as the 
United States has pledged to Israel ? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  As I've said many times, I'm not going to get 
into the details of the discussions.  The Framework Agreement between 
the parties and all the discussions were focused on their respective 
relationships with each other, and we have not reached the stage where 
there have been any discussions on what the United States' role would 
be.  I've said this before in connection with whether or not there might 
be some international troops or  U.S. forces on the Golan Heights -- 
that subject simply hasn't come up, nor have other subjects related to 
U.S. involvement.  The Framework are a set of principles that would not 
focus just on the bilateral issues between Syria and Israel. 
 
Steve. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, do you sense from what you've heard from 
Dennis Ross a greater flexibility on both sides right now in terms of 
Syria and Israel?  Also, could you say, in your heart of hearts -- aside 
from peace breaking out -- what you expect to accomplish on this trip? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  My reports from Dennis Ross have been basically 
positive as to his conversations with both President Asad and Prime 
Minister Rabin.  They both seem to sense the need for acceleration.  
They both, I think, are in a problem-solving mode with respect to the 
issues that are before them.  Both of them, of course, are very 
concerned about their country's security and they'll never do anything 
to compromise the security of their country.  But I think they are 
looking for ways to meet the security needs of both countries and have 
yet to find some way to come into agreement with each other.   
 
Since this is a very short trip, and I don't expect to be doing a lot of 
shuttling back and forth, I don't hold out any great expectations for 
tangible results.  I think the results would have to be assessed as the 
days and weeks go on ahead.  But I do think that, as has happened 
before, the meetings can give an impetus by transmitting messages from 
one party to another, probing issues with each of the parties, and 
enabling them to make some progress as they move ahead.   
 
As I say, the concentration is on the security issues in the Syrian 
track at the present time, but I certainly don't preclude going back to 
some of the other three major issues that we have before the parties and 
try to just make sure that we can recognize the shortness of time, 
indeed, for genuine progress.   
 
On your precise question, Steve, to just answer it, I think Dennis is 
still satisfied with his meetings, that they achieved their purpose of 
preparing for the meetings that I'm about to have. 
 
Yes, Charlie. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, do you sense that this is a time when the U.S. 
is going to start to step up its role given the electoral problems both 
in our country and in Israel?  Is this the start of a new phase in any 
particular way, or is this just another step along the continuum? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think this is a new phase of opportunity on 
both tracks.  The United States will step up its role to the extent the 
parties seek to be willing to have us do so.  I think the fact that the 
President made two calls in the last two days is some evidence of our 
commitment and he's assured me that he will do that, and his 
responsiveness, as you know, is extremely important given his busy time 
on other subjects.  To make those calls, I think, is some evidence of 
his own strong commitment to making progress here.  So, there is no 
question about our willingness to proceed ahead. 
 
Carol. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, do you foresee the next couple of months as a 
crunch phase, especially  in the Israeli-Syrian negotiations?  Do you 
see time running out practically to get an agreement this year, or 
before elections start to really unravel things? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Carol, I've said that I think it is essential 
for the parties to accelerate the pace if they are going to achieve 
sufficient progress before the elections have an overhang on it.  But I 
think it is not possible to set a precise deadline for that.  The 
parties may feel that they can negotiate effectively closer to the 
actual elections that have been now seen.  Though it is clear that by 
the end of the year in Israel they'll be selecting the candidates and 
focusing on the elections.  I think we all sense the need to make some 
progress this summer and fall.  I don't want to set any artificial 
deadlines; the parties themselves will have to assess when that time has 
come when we can make effective progress.  That being said, I do think 
this is a crucial period. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, is there a date set for the beginning of the 
security talks, and is that one of the issues you hope to able to 
resolve, as well as the level at which they will be held during this 
trip? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  At the present time there is no date for the 
commencement of the military  experts.  There was a statement that we 
would have such talks by the end of June and it is certainly correct 
that that's one of the things I'll be exploring -- the precise timetable 
as well as the level at which it will take place.  Thanks again.  
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