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95/06/10 Briefing following meeting with Pres. Asad
Office of the Spokesman

                    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                     Office of the Spokesman 
                        (Damascus, Syria) 
For Immediate Release                                 June 10, 1995 
                          Sheraton Hotel 
                         Damascus, Syria 
                          June 10, 1995 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  President Asad and I had a very productive 
meeting today, about three hours long.  We had a thorough and 
constructive discussion of the next steps to be taken to move the 
Syrian-Israeli track to a new and more intensive phase. 
Based on my conversation earlier this week with Prime Minister Rabin and 
those that I had here just a few moments ago with President Asad, we 
have an agreement to begin a sequence of steps along the following 
lines.  First, Syrian Chief of Staff Shihabi and Israeli Chief of Staff 
Shahak will come to Washington for discussions, under U.S. auspices, on 
the security arrangements to be covered by the Israeli-Syrian peace 
agreement when and if it is completed.  These discussions will commence 
in Washington on the 27th of June and will continue for two or three 
days.  We have also invited the two Chiefs of Staff to come to 
Washington a few days in advance for informal bilateral discussions with 
us, to provide us with an opportunity to carry forward the discussions 
AmbAsador Dennis Ross had with the Security Chiefs while he was out here 
in the region. 
After the initial meeting of the Chiefs of Staff, starting on the 27th 
of June, we anticipate about a two week interval to allow both sides to 
review the results of those discussions and to digest the results.  
During this interval of two weeks, I plan to send Dennis Ross back to 
the region so he can discuss the next steps with President Asad and 
Prime Minister Rabin.  After this two week interval, the Israeli and 
Syrian military officials -- below the Chief of Staff level -- will 
reconvene in Washington under our auspices as part of the ambAsadorial 
channel.  With continued discussions in that channel, we expect that 
series of discussions between the ambAsadors and the military officials 
to take about two weeks.  That would carry us through approximately the 
end of July, by my estimate. 
The agreement that we have reached on this rather detailed and ambitious 
work plan confirms the determination of the parties to seek an early 
peace.  The experience of the months since my visit to the region in 
March, particularly the agreement that was reached on a set of 
principles or a framework, demonstrates what we have been saying for 
some time -- that progress on this track will not be easy but that 
progress can be made when the parties set their minds to it.  They have 
reflected good will, determination, and flexibility, and that has 
brought us to the point where we are today. 
In the weeks ahead, as the two Chiefs of Staff and the others focus on 
security issues, the AmbAsadors in Washington will also renew their 
discussions of the non-security issues, which will be essential if we 
are to ultimately reach a peace agreement.  We have already narrowed the 
differences on a number of these non-security issues, but there is a 
good deal of work to do.  I strongly feel that if we can make progress 
on the security issues, then that will have a favorable effect on the 
environment and will affect the non-security issues as well.  Our 
attention over the next several months will be focused on both security 
and non-security issues. 
QUESTION:  Could you tell us about your meeting with President Asad and 
your impression whether he thinks that a peace treaty can be achieved? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  My meeting lasted for about three hours.  It 
was, like our other meetings, intense.  It began with a discussion of 
his telephone call with President Clinton.  I told him that President 
Clinton felt that there was a good chance to make progress this year, 
and he affirmed that we all recognize the importance of the year 1995, 
and the importance of making progress during the course of this year.  
We had quite a discussion of the reasons why progress this year is very 
important.  President Asad was very clear in his mind that this is the 
time when we must move forward to make progress.  Because of the 
electoral calendar in both countries, there is a need to both accelerate 
and intensify our discussions in order to achieve the kind of progress 
that is necessary this year. 
QUESTION:  Did he indicate any flexibility to you on any of the major 
outstanding issues? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The fact that we are going forward with these 
security discussions and that he is sending his Chief of Staff to renew 
these discussions in the context of the framework that we have 
established shows a seriousness of purpose.  I do not want to 
characterize the willingness of the parties to show flexibility or 
compromise on issues, but everyone knows that there are gaps between the 
parties that are very serious issues to be faced.  They approach it 
understanding the need for creativity if the gaps are to be narrowed and 
QUESTION:  Will the Chiefs of Staff and their senior officers discuss 
only the security arrangements, or will they also discuss lines of 
withdrawal, phases of withdrawal, normalization, and other such issues? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The Chiefs of Staff will concentrate on security 
issues, but the issues are interrelated.  Obviously, they will have to 
consider the security issues in light of various alternatives as to how 
the other issues are involved.  There is no way to wall off the security 
issues from the other three legs of the stool, as Prime Minister Rabin 
would put it.  Normalization, timing, and the scope of withdrawal are 
obviously important issues that will have to be taken into account as 
the security chiefs do their work. 
QUESTION:  Did you get any indication from President Asad that he is 
willing to engage in more of the so-called "public diplomacy" that is 
going to be so important in Israel? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We discussed the need for public diplomacy.  We 
compared notes about the number of things that have been done in Israel 
and the number of things that have been done here.  He feels that he has 
taken a number of important steps to try to educate the people of Syria 
on the important issues facing the parties.  So there was an exchange of 
views about that and an understanding on both sides that both of the 
countries have to do a good deal to achieve an understanding within 
their countries of the issues involved here and the results that might 
be achieved.  There is also an important understanding on his part, as 
well as in Israel, of the need to talk not only about the price of the 
peace but the benefits that will come to both countries if the peace 
agreement is reached -- that they can finally put behind them the state 
of war in which they have existed for too long.  There is an 
understanding of the need to describe and emphasize the benefits and 
advantages that would flow from reaching a peace agreement. 
QUESTION:  Does that mean that the United States needs to describe to 
the parties the benefits? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  No.  Each of the parties recognizes the need to 
explain to its citizens the benefits that would flow from a peace 
agreement as well as the price to be paid.  But we had a discussion that 
emphasized that perhaps there had been too much emphasis on only one 
side of that equation, and that needs to be balanced by an emphasis on 
the benefits and advantages as well. 
QUESTION:  Since you talked about benefits, did you discuss the issue of 
U.S.-Syrian bilateral relations, meaning here the presence of Syria on 
the list of states sponsoring terrorism? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We did not discuss that issue today.  But there 
is always a concern involved here of the potential for the U.S.-Syrian 
relationship.  I have discussed that regularly with the Foreign 
Minister, and that certainly is part of the discussion.  But the United 
States will move forward in that way based upon its own judgment of the 
facts of the situation.  It is not any kind of a involvement of that in 
the negotiations or per se.  But as we spend more time here, as we get 
to know the Syrian officials better, we have new opportunities to engage 
with them on such issues as counterfeiting, narcotics, and terrorism.  
Those new opportunities will only grow if there is a peace agreement 
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