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U.S. Department of State
96/04/21 Interview on "This Week with David Brinkley"
Office of the Spokesman 
 
 
 
                         U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                          Office of the Spokesman 
______________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                   April 21, 1996 
 
 
 
                               INTERVIEW OF 
                SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER 
                                    ON 
                   ABC-TV "THIS WEEK WITH DAVID BRINKLEY" 
 
                                 Jerusalem 
                               April 21, 1996 
 
 
MR. DAVID BRINKLEY:  Our Secretary of State Warren Christopher is 
standing by and in communication with us from Jerusalem.  Thank you very 
much for coming in, Mr. Secretary.  We're pleased to have you. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you, David. 
 
MR. BRINKLEY:  Here in the studio in Washington are George Will and 
Cokie Roberts. 
 
Now, tell us, you were saying yesterday that both parties in the Middle 
East dispute seemed ready for some kind of cease-fire.  What's the story 
today? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's what they tell me, David.  Last night I 
met until late in the evening with President Assad in Syria.  I came 
early this morning to Israel, and I've met twice today with Prime 
Minister Peres.  Tonight I'll go back to Syria for meetings with Assad.  
That's to give you some idea of the intensity that I'm trying to bring 
to this. 
 
I came here at the direction of President Clinton because we place such 
a high premium on getting a cease-fire and an enduring set of 
understandings that will make the civilians on both sides of the border 
once again safe. 
 
MR. BRINKLEY:  Does it still seem to you that both sides are ready to do 
business, to agree to some kind of settlement -- cease-fire? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Both sides indicate they want a cease-fire.  I 
think we've reached the point in this  
 
particular episode where that's a real possibility.  But I have to be 
candid and say that there are difficulties remaining.  I hope we can 
work through them.  We're certainly being aggressive and relentless 
about it. 
 
MR. GEORGE WILL:  Mr. Secretary, can you confirm or deny that since this 
fighting began 400 Katyusha rockets have been transshipped through the 
Damascus airport from Iran to Lebanon? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  George, I'm not going to get into intelligence 
information.  But one thing I can say is that the aim is to get an 
enduring set of arrangements that will prevent that kind of thing from 
happening, prevent Katyushas from being fired into northern Israel and, 
indeed, make civilians on both sides of the border safe.  That's the 
whole purpose of this endeavor. 
 
MR. WILL:  Your trip to Damascus this evening will be your 18th, perhaps 
19th -- it's hard to keep count -- trip you've made to Syria.  Yet, 
Syria, which could stop this, will not.  Do you accept the premise that 
Syria -- which considers and lists on some of its maps Lebanon as part 
of "Greater Syria" -- could stop this carnage if it wanted, could 
control Hizbollah? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There's no doubt in my mind that Syria has great 
influence over Hizbollah.  That's why I'm talking to them.  There's some 
influence also in Lebanon.  But I think the combination of those two can 
bring this fighting to an end. 
 
I made a number of trips out to this region, but I think they've been 
overall very worthwhile.  When I look back to where we were three years 
ago, George, and where we are now, I think it was a very good 
investment.  United States leadership is absolutely essential here, and 
I'm determined to go on. 
 
MR. WILL:  With reference to the civilian casualties that have occurred, 
one of your spokesmen said that clearly Hizbollah is using civilians as 
cover, and it is despicable.  Will you use that kind of language to Mr. 
Assad, and would it do any good if you did? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We've had some very candid and frank discussions 
over the three years I've been talking with him, including last night, 
and we'll continue to have them.  There are lots of grievances on both 
sides, George.  My job as a negotiator is to try to get a cease-fire put 
into effect, an enduring arrangement that will keep this from happening 
again, certainly not in the near future. 
 
Sometimes invective is useful.  More often I find being reasonable and 
being prospective rather than dealing in the retrospective is more 
effective. 
 
MS. COKIE ROBERTS:  Mr. Secretary, some of your critics, however, say 
you've been a little too reasonable with Syria, and that Syria does not 
respond to carrots but only to sticks; that Assad has done nothing that 
he hasn't wanted to do as a result of U.S. pressure. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We've hardly been too reasonable with Syria.  
They're on our drug list.  They're on our terrorism list.  They 
understand the dissatisfaction we have with them; but, as Prime Minister 
Rabin said not long ago, not long before his death, you usually don't 
have to make peace between friends.  We clearly have to deal with 
President Assad if we're going to help the Israelis achieve peace in 
this region. 
 
They are the key to completing the circle of peace.  What I am doing 
here is with the strong encouragement of the Israelis, the latest, of 
course, this morning when Prime Minister Peres indicated he wanted to 
use the United States as the sole channel for negotiations. 
 
MS. ROBERTS:  I'm glad you brought that up.  The Lebanese Foreign 
Minister is saying that all European efforts at a cease-fire are being 
thrown out by the Israelis.  Is that the case? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I've been talking with my European colleagues, 
and Prime Minister Peres is going to meet with the French Foreign 
Minister tonight, so they're certainly being included in these 
discussions in an overall sense. 
 
One thing that's very important, Cokie, is that all of us, I think, are 
in full agreement that it is time for a cease-fire.  I'm exchanging 
views with them, consulting with them.  We're trying to bring the full 
force of the international community to bear.  But, as Prime Minister 
Peres said today, it's difficult to have multiple channels, it's 
difficult to have multiple drafts; and he prefers, because of the long 
experience the United States has had, to work through the United States. 
 
MS. ROBERTS:  You keep saying -- 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I would say -- 
 
MS. ROBERTS:  You keep saying that everybody wants a cease-fire, but can 
you give us some sense of the evidence that Syria wants a cease-fire?  
Have they done anything to stop arming the Hizbollah? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think they want a cease-fire, Cokie, because 
they would like to get back to the bargaining table.  They would like to 
get back to the peace process.  After all, Israel is occupying the Golan 
Heights, which Syria regards as part of its territory.  So they've got a 
very important goal in the long run, and I do think that they would like 
to bring this fighting to an end so they can get back to the peace 
process. 
 
But their negotiations are going to be very difficult.  There are some 
tough issues remaining. 
 
MR. WILL:  Aside from withdrawal from the Golan Heights, does Syria also 
want Israel to withdraw from the so-called "security zone" in southern 
Lebanon, and is that likely? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  George, of course, that's been the long-term aim 
of everyone here.  Israel doesn't have any territorial aims with respect 
to Lebanon.  For the moment, being in that security zone is necessary to 
protect northern Israel.  But a comprehensive peace would have Israel 
out of southern Lebanon, and of course that's been the aim for a long 
time. 
 
MR. WILL:  As you discuss the Golan Heights, are you discussing the 
possibility of U.S. troops on the Golan Heights? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's a long time ahead, George.  
Unfortunately, those negotiations are now off track because of the 
tragic things that are going on here.  We haven't gotten to the point of 
discussing U.S. troops on the Golan.  We really haven't gone that far in 
the security discussions with Syria. 
 
MR. BRINKLEY:  Mr. Secretary, there is a participant in the violence who 
sort of remains off stage, and that's Iran which is arming, feeding, 
clothing, housing and paying the Hizbollah.  What can we do about that? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  David, we've taken the strongest stand of any 
nation in the world against Iran.  Iran is the enemy of the peace 
process.  They're a terrorist country.  We have basically embargoed 
Iran.  We're encouraging all of our allies around the world to treat 
them in a similar way. 
 
I think we've had to show leadership with Iran even though it has 
involved sacrifice for Americans and American companies.  We're going to 
continue on that course because we are fully convinced that Iran is 
trying to undermine the peace process, and they're doing that in many 
different ways.  Information keeps coming to us that confirms us in 
those views, and we only wish we could persuade our allies to take as 
strong a stand against Iran as we have. 
 
MR. BRINKLEY:  Mr. Secretary, thank you.  Thank you very much for coming 
in and talking with us today.  It's pleasure to have you, and good luck. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you, David. 
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