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U.S. Department of State
96/04/20 Remarks following meeting with President Assad, Syria
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release April 21, 1996
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
AFTER MEETING WITH PRESIDENT ASSAD
Sheraton Hotel, Damascus
April 20, 1996
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Good evening, as you know President Clinton
directed me to come here to urge the parties to enter into a cease-fire,
and also to try to take steps to calm the situation in the region once
again. I have just come from meeting, a little over two and a half
hours, with President Assad, it was a good and productive meeting. We
covered a wide range of subjects but this time we concentrated on the
great importance of an early cease-fire, and on a re-statement of the
1993 Understanding. I will be going tomorrow morning to Israel to meet
with Prime Minister Peres, and then I will be returning here at some
point to continue this process.
I want to say that the United States feels a very special responsibility
to try to bring calm back to the region and enable the parties to resume
the peace process. I think today's meeting was a first step from our
stand-point, and I will continue to work this just as actively and
aggressively as I can.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I think you said a "re-statement of the 1993
Understanding". Does President Assad agree that the 1993 Agreement
should be strengthened and broadened, and pretty more of a guarantee?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I think he feels that there should be a
reaffirmation of it, but I think he is in agreement that it should be in
writing this time, and when you right something down, you tend to give
precision to it. I think there is a real value to that because you
answer questions that might come up. So I think this written agreement
will tend to be fuller than the informal understanding of 1993 and it
will gain strength simply from being written down, codified in-effect.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, going into this meeting, as I understood,
President Assad was interested in a cease-fire. Could you tell us what
his interest is in that cease-fire, or what sort of parameters he has in
mind for that agreement?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: He indicated that he has a strong interest in
the cease-fire, and that they were working to achieve it. He did not
give me a time-frame, but he indicated that they would press forward to
achieve a cease-fire in order to permit the discussions, the
negotiations to take place for a reaffirmation of the 1993
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Israel says it is ready for a cease-fire, and
Hezbollah obviously wants something in return for a cease-fire. What is
it that Hezbollah wants?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I can not answer that, Hezbollah is clearly an
important actor in this situation. I am working with the parties; with
Israel, with Syria, and with Lebanon. I hope that will produce a cease-
fire that will enable us to pursue negotiations actively, and have a
good opportunity to restore calm in the region, which is the fundamental
basis for our getting back to the peace process.
Thanks very much.
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