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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 
                           (Damascus, Syria) 
For Immediate Release                                  April 21, 1996

                              REMARKS BY

                     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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