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U.S. Department of State
96/06/14 Address: Middle East & North Africa
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release June 14, 1996
As Prepared for Delivery
ADDRESS BY SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
TO THE COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
CONFERENCE ON INVESTING IN THE FUTURE:
THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA IN THE NEXT CENTURY
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
June 14, 1996
I want to thank Bill Lowrie very much for that kind introduction. And
thank you for Amoco's leadership in making the private sector our
partner in promoting peace and prosperity in the Middle East.
It is a great pleasure to be here for this important conference. Under
Les Gelb's leadership, the Council on Foreign Relations has continued to
do great work -- including its enormously constructive role in the
Middle East Economic Summits. Today's gathering marks another milestone
in that process, and I want to express my appreciation to Les, to Henry
Siegman, and to the entire Council for their outstanding efforts.
Looking at this audience, I am struck by the fact that an event like
this would have been unthinkable just three and a half years ago when I
became Secretary of State. You are indeed pioneers of peace --
entrepreneurs and executives from the United States, Israel, and across
the Arab world, now preparing for your third Economic Summit this
November in Cairo. Starting in Casablanca in 1994 and continuing last
year in Amman, the relationships you have developed and the projects you
have launched have shattered taboos that stood for half a century. You
have established an unprecedented web of contacts and cooperation. You
are helping to ln 20 years ago, and American
leadership has been critical to each of its successes: the
disengagement agreements after the 1973 War; the peace treaty between
Egypt and Israel; the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference; and the remarkable
achievements of the past three years.
Our vital national interests and unique leadership role confer upon the
United States a special responsibility to ensure that these tremendous
strides toward peace are preserved. Peace will strengthen the security
of Israel and our key Arab partners. Peace will enhance regional
stability and our access to the Gulf's vital oil supplies.
Peace will also allow us and our friends to focus on the common dangers
that threaten us all -- from rogue states like Iraq and Iran to violent
extremism and terror.At this time of transition in Israel, as we await
the formation of a new government, it is worth taking a few minutes to
remind ourselves just how much the peace process has accomplished since
1993 -- and how great a stake we have in continued progress.
First, Israel and the Palestinians have reached a series of
landmarkagreements. Palestinians now govern themselves throughout Gaza
and most cities of the West Bank. Israeli soldiers no longer face the
burden of patrolling those streets. Where once there was an intifada,
Israeli and Palestinian security forces now cooperate to root out the
terrorist infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Palestinian
National Council voted overwhelmingly this spring to remove from its
charter those egregious clauses denying Israel's right to exist.
Second, Israel's 1993 agreement with the Palestinians helped make
possible the peace treaty with Jordan one year later. Today, Israel and
Jordan are establishing cooperative relations across the full range of
political, economic, and security issues. Tens of thousands of Israeli
and Jordanian tourists have visited each others' countries. Later this
month, Jordan will host a reunion of 200 Arab and Israeli teenagers --
participants in a program called Seeds of Peace dedicated to building a
warm peace. And I will never forget King Hussein's moving eulogy at
Prime Minister Rabin's funeral. The King's presence and his eloquence
on such a sad day profoundly reflected how much the region has changed.
Third, the progress achieved in the peace process has helped spur
unprecedented movement in Israel's relations with the broader Arab
world. Diplomatic offices have been exchanged with Morocco, Tunisia and
Mauritania, and trade offices with Qatar and Oman. The secondary
economic boycott has all but withered away. With the exception of Iraq,
Libya, and Sudan, every Arab League member has participated in some
aspect of the peace process -- from the multilateral negotiations on
issues like water, refugees, and arms control to the Economic Summits in
Casablanca and Amman.
Perhaps no single event better captured this extraordinary
transformation than the Summit of Peacemakers held three months ago in
Sharm el-Sheikh. Virtually overnight, President Clinton and President
Mubarak brought together 29 world leaders, including 14 from the Arab
world. They gathered not to celebrate a breakthrough in the peace
process, but to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel to defend the
process against a wave of terrorism.
These are truly historic achievements. They have advanced the vital
interests of Israel, her Arab partners, as well as the United States.
They have come about with the help of a consistent American approach to
the Middle East that has been guided by a set of core principles. Above
all, these include our unshakable commitment to Israel's security and to
a strong U.S.-Israeli partnership -- and our determination to work with
Israel and her Arab neighbors to achieve our common goals of peace and
security. We know that there can be no real peace without security, and
there can be no real security without peace.
That is why we will work with Israel and the Palestinians to help them
implement the agreements they have reached and to resolve outstanding
issues. We will help to strengthen Israel's peace treaties with Egypt
and Jordan. We will continue to work toward a comprehensive peace
through a resumption of negotiations between Israel and Syria and
between Israel and Lebanon. And we will strive to help deepen and
broaden relations between Israel and the wider Arab world.
In each of these areas, the United States will work closely with
Israel's new government, led by Prime Minister-elect Netanyahu. The
recent elections once again underscored the vibrance and strength of
Israel's democracy. The United States enjoyed a strong and productive
relationship with the governments of Prime Ministers Rabin and Peres --
statesmen of extraordinary vision and courage. Now we hope to build an
equally strong and productive relationship with the new Israeli Prime
Minister and his team.
President Clinton and I have been in close touch with Mr. Netanyahu
since the elections, and we look forward to welcoming him to Washington
soon after he forms his government. We will be consulting closely with
him and with our Arab partners on how best to sustain the peace process.
In this regard, we welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu's commitment to
continue the peace process. We are urging our Arab friends not to
prejudge the new government in Israel. Now, during this period of
transition, it is essential to avoid actions or statements that close
doors and risk polarizing the situation and raising tensions. It is
critical that we remain focused on preserving the achievements of the
past three years and maintaining the momentum necessary to make new
gains. It is also critical that we maintain our commitment to building
the economic foundations necessary for a lasting peace. Growing
opportunity can ease the conflicts and hatreds that have held back the
Middle East for half a century. Rising prosperity can help the Middle
East move forward into a new millenium of reconciliation, cooperation
and full integration with the global economy.
This commitment to a prosperous peace is consistent with President
Clinton's strategic judgment that America's economic and political
interests are intertwined around the world. Opening markets and
expanding trade and investment abroad not only creates jobs at home, it
strengthens our political relationships and advances our strategic
interests at the same time. As a former Secretary of State, Cordell
Hull, said over half a century ago, "When goods move, soldiers don't."
That is precisely the principle behind the Middle East Economic Summit
Our commitment to this process reflects our conviction that while it may
take politicians and diplomats to make peace, it takes workers and
businesses to build peace. Building peace means innaugurating the new
bus service between Israel and Jordan -- and regular flights between Ben
Gurion Airport and Amman. Building peace means the regional airport at
Aqaba to bring tourists to the spot where Jordan and Israel meet astride
the mountains and deserts along the Red Sea. Building peace means a new
power plant on the shores of the Mediterranean in Gaza. And building
peace means the Amoco pipeline -- the "peace pipeline" -- that will
supply Egyptian natural gas to Israel.
These projects embody the vision that first brought many of us together
in Casablanca nearly two years ago. Then, last October in Amman, we
agreed to establish a set of regional institutions to promote the
region's economic development and integration: The Middle East
Development Bank will support key private sector projects and focus on
the region's critical infrastructure needs. We hope to open the offices
of the Bank at the Cairo Economic Summit this fall.
The Middle East-Mediterranean Travel and Tourism Association will open
the region's wonders to the world and spur economic growth. The
Regional Business Council will become a vital forum for exchanging
business information, developing investment opportunities and building a
world-class business environment.
As you have been discussing at this Conference, we will build on these
achievements at the Cairo Summit. The Summit will focus government and
business leaders on the essential steps that must be taken in key areas
such as deregulation, privatization, and other economic reforms. And it
will emphasize the role of small and medium enterprises in the region.
Most important, the Cairo Summit will bring together hundreds of
business people from across the region and around the world to generate
business deals and projects. The Summit will once again dramatize the
economic benefits of peace -- and the immense potential for economic
cooperation across the Middle East. But to fulfill that potential,
governments should remove the economic obstacles that stand in the way
of growth and opportunity. Governments should take steps to overcome
the legacy of excessivegovernment regulation and inefficient public
investment if they want to attract local and foreign capital back to the
They should tear down tariff and non-tariff barriers if they want to
encourage trade, especially among the countries of the region. And they
should reform capital markets, update tax systems and ensure fair
business practices if they want to compete in the global economy of the
Some encouraging reforms are taking root. Liberalization has spurred
growth and attracted foreign investment to Tunisia and Morocco.
Jordan's new investment code is helping to attract foreign capital --
much of which is being invested in that country's spectacular tourism
boom. Now Egypt is privatizing companies, reforming banking laws,
opening up business loans, and streamlining customs procedures to
facilitate trade. We are working with Egypt to support these and other
reforms through the partnership led by President Mubarak and Vice
Israel, too, has a new opportunity to deepen the already far-reaching
economic reforms that it has undertaken in recent years. We welcome
Prime Minister-elect Netanyahu's commitment to intensify essential
reforms, such as privatization and deregulation. This course will help
sustain the remarkable economic growth and inward investment that Israel
has enjoyed since the peace process began to produce results.
As the economies of the region become more open and integrated, economic
growth in Israel can present opportunities to Israel's Arab neighbors --
especially the Palestinians. Israel's new government can seize the
initiative by finding ways to expand trade with Jordan and increase
economic interaction with the West Bank and Gaza. The United States is
prepared to help by providing free trade privileges to the Palestinians
similar to those that Israel enjoys. The Clinton Administration is
working with Congress to secure this authority.
The political and economic futures of the Middle East are inextricably
linked. The success of the peace process over the last three years has
been the essential condition for creating the region's new economic
opportunities. The readiness of business, in turn, to seize these
opportunities has helped to strengthen the process by demonstrating the
potential of peace to lift the lives of both Arabs and Israelis.
Today, the challenge we face is clear: We must ensure that our efforts
on both the diplomatic and economic fronts are sustained -- and that our
shared goal of peace and prosperity continues to be advanced.
Ours is an uncommon enterprise with a common purpose. We ask leaders
and peoples to take risks for peace. We ask companies and entrepreneurs
to take risks for profit -- in the name of peace. We ask governments to
encourage business to take those risks by reforming and deregulating
their economies. And we ask the whole world to join us.
Thank you very much.
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