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U.S. Department of State
96/02/07 Remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Peres
Office of the Spokesman


                        U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                         Office of the Spokesman 
 
                               (Jerusalem) 
 
For Immediate Release                               February 7, 1996



                               REMARKS BY
                  ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER SHIMON PERES
                                   AND 
               U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
                           AFTER THEIR MEETING                                 
Tel Aviv                              February 7, 1996 
 
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES:  Ladies and gentlemen:  I am very glad to welcome 
the Secretary of State upon his return from Damascus.  I do believe that 
he has had before him one of the most delicate missions in modern 
diplomacy, and his return with what I would consider a real success.  
Because clearly, in addition to the official channels between the 
different parties, there is a flow of information, and it was quite easy 
for the Syrian side to misread what is happening here, and the 
misreading that could have caused the interruption of the negotiation.  
Instead, I believe that the Secretary has carried a balanced and 
objective picture in a very convincing way.  He reassured that the peace 
negotiations would be continued.  Time will not be wasted no matter what 
will take place in our country or elsewhere concerning the internal 
situation.  I must say that I personally am much relieved because I 
speak for a government which is sincerely and seriously interested in 
the peace negotiations -- in its overall concept and its particular 
effort to bring an end to the war, to bring an end to the conflict, to 
create a new relationship with Syria and Lebanon.   
 
I want to repeat again that our own experience shows that whenever you 
negotiate with ups and downs and interruptions and suspicions, it is not 
a honeymoon.  And the heart of the negotiation is to be very careful not 
to cut them unintentionally or without care.  And I think that the 
Secretary was able to bridge over one of those important crises.  And I 
feel very much encouraged that we can continue the negotiation with full 
respect to the other side and with a serious mind toward the results of 
it.  We shall continue, I hope, to negotiate on all domains: security, 
economy, improved relations, comprehensive negotiation.  And no time 
will be wasted.  There is still a great deal of work before us.  But I 
think that the greatest hope, both for Syria and Israel, is to go over 
from a strategic confrontation to economic competition or economic 
operations, whatever the Syrians may like. 
 
We would like both to thank the Secretary and to welcome him back to 
Israel. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much.  We had 
an opportunity to have a good discussion of my visit to Damascus and my 
meeting with President Assad.  We also discussed my meeting this morning 
in Gaza with Chairman Arafat.  With respect to my meeting yesterday in 
Syria and the Syrian-Israeli track, let me make three brief points.  
First, the announcement that I made that the meetings would go forward 
in the Wye Plantation at the end of this month and the customary 
framework was, I believe, a commitment on behalf of both of the parties 
to the continuity of the process.  The parties put considerable weight 
and faith in the process and they want to continue the process.  Second, 
the decision taken by the two parties reflects a commitment on behalf of 
both of them to the goal of reaching an agreement in 1996.  And third, I 
want to stress that the United States will continue to do everything 
that it can to assist the parties to achieve that goal.  Under our 
auspices the negotiations will go forward and we are determined to be as 
helpful as we possibly can be to the parties.  That is what President 
Clinton intends, and, certainly, that is what the people of Israel and 
the people of Syria deserve. 
 
Thank you very much. 
 
QUESTION:  What do you consider the significance of the Americans 
leaving behind the Deputy Secretary of State to discuss economics with 
the Syrians today? 
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES:  I attach to it a great importance, because, I 
believe, political agreement may be the end of the war but an economic 
understanding may be the beginning of peace.  It is one thing to put an 
end to a conflict.  It is another thing to create a different 
opportunity for the people and the peoples of the region.  I think 
nowadays whoever looks straight in the eyes of history must admit that 
economy and strategy are inseparable and we have to work on both 
challenges to go over from the old days of simple power plays to the new 
days of creating a different economy. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, what is the mission of Deputy Secretary 
Verstanding as she stays behind in Damascus? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think, probably all of you know, it is clear 
that there is an economic dimension to the peace process.  There is an 
economic dimension to the concept of comprehensiveness which we have 
been discussing extensively.  That means that for us to play our role we 
need to assist the parties in developing an economic relationship as 
well as a strategic and political relationship.  Her role there is -- 
and the role of her team is -- to find out from the Syrians what their 
priorities are, what kind of hopes and aspirations they have, and also 
to try to improve our information base about the priorities of the 
Syrians and about their economic situation and needs. 
 
QUESTION (In Hebrew*):  Prime Minister, you said that you are relieved 
now following the return of the Secretary of State from Damascus.  What 
is the relief all about?  Did you think that the entire negotiation 
would be interrupted?  And a second question if I may is: following the 
information you have received from Warren Christopher and the fact that 
the talks continue, can you announce the date of elections? 
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES (In Hebrew*):  Regarding the first thing, certainly 
there was a danger that the talks would break down.  I would like to 
remind you that there have already been two interruptions.  I know that 
it is easy to stop and difficult to resume.  Therefore, I was glad that 
there is no need to interrupt, and that we can continue.  Regarding the 
date of elections, I said that I will announce it next week, and I will 
keep to my announcement.    
 
QUESTION (In Hebrew*):  Prime Minister, you have announced that in the 
previous round of talks a substantive discussion began, and here, the 
next round of talks in Maryland is again a round of feeling each other 
out.  Don't you think that the time has arrived to open a real 
negotiation and that this is a delay in the progress of the process?  
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES (In Hebrew*):  I must tell you that my romantic 
perception is so limited in distinguishing between feeling out and 
negotiations.  What is the deference?  All the time you plant new ideas 
and you examine them.  I don't think this is feeling out.  I believe 
this is a negotiation.  I believe that the art of negotiation is a 
constant introduction of new ideas, and later to see which will work 
out. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, every country, even every group like the PLO 
that comes to some sort of an agreement with Israel is richly rewarded 
with American assistance.  Would you wish that there were no legal 
barriers so that the U.S. could get into this economic dimension and 
treat the Syrians with the same aid and support in getting international 
loans, maybe even a donors' conference, draw them to the West, make them 
part of the U.S. Foreign Aid Program?  You have a legal problem now, is 
it something that you wish you could simply -- you know -- uproot? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well Barry, first, as these negotiations 
proceed, and if they are successful, that will be the basis for the 
improvement on a step-by-step basis of our relationship with Syria.  But 
that will depend upon the conduct of Syria.  The legal barriers exist 
because of the perceived conduct of Syria, and naturally we hope that 
the circumstances will change in a way that will enable us no longer to 
have those barriers.  So, first as I say, work and involvement in the 
peace process could provide the basis for growing a closeness of 
relationship, but that will depend second on the conduct of Syria on 
which the barriers are based.  And I hope that circumstances will enable 
us to make judgements that make those barriers no longer effective. 
 
QUESTION (In Hebrew*):  Prime Minister, not long ago you told us that 
after receiving clarifications from Syria regarding the substance of 
peace, you will announce in the Knesset what is the Israeli position 
regarding the withdrawal.  It seems that you have already received this 
clarifications, however, you still delay your announcement.  Do you 
intend to announce it soon?  Is there any chance that this announcement 
will be heard before the elections take place?   
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES (In Hebrew*):  The impression is wrong.  We 
continue the clarifications and I will keep to my words as I said. 
 
QUESTION (in Hebrew*): Even before the elections?  
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES:  (In Hebrew*): It does not depend on me.  It 
depends on the pace of the negotiations.  I would like to say here, that 
in addition to the issues previously under dispute, along with the 
negotiations were unveiled very heavy issues.  And perhaps, the heaviest 
is the water issue.  I think that it will take time, in the most 
objective way, until a solution accepted by both Syria and Israel will 
be found that will respond to the needs of these countries.  We need 
here very many advanced techniques to solve the problems.  It is natural 
that Syria would not be willing to leave its country dry, and that we 
would not want to leave our country dry.   This is a very serious 
matter.  Water to a country is like weapons to an army.  It determines 
the economic strength of a country.    
 
QUESTION (In Hebrew*): Prime Minister, one more question.  It is clear 
that it will be very difficult to discuss problematic issues, such as 
borders -- withdrawal.  Did you promise Assad, through Christopher, that 
these issues will be discussed also in the negotiations taking place 
before the elections?   
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES: (In Hebrew*) I did not promise, and I did not give 
any commitments, and I was not asked to give any commitments. We did 
what we wanted to do.  That is to say, to conduct a negotiation with no 
prior conditions and without limitations of any kind.    
 
Thank you very much. 
 
(###) 

* Translated by U.S.I.S. Staff
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