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U.S. Department of State
96/06/24 Press Remarks enroute Israel
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release June 24, 1996
Remarks by Secretary of State Warren Christopher
En Route to Israel
This is obviously my first trip to Israel since the Israeli elections.
The principle purpose is to establish a working relationship with the
new Prime Minister--you all know that I had a good relationship with
both Prime Minister Rabin and Prime Minister Peres and I hope to
establish a similar relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu.
I met with him, you recall, several times when I was out here before but
it was quite a different circumstance. He was in the opposition at that
point. I talked to him a couple times on the telephone since his
election but this will be the first opportunity for a substantive
discussion and an opportunity to establish a working relationship.
Naturally, I will also be talking with him about his forthcoming trip to
Washington, where he will be meeting with the President for the first
time in his new capacity as Prime Minister.
In the course of our discussions I hope to begin to acquaint him some of
the history of the negotiations over the last three and half years. Of
course, as I understand it, the outgoing government has been
conscientious about doing so, but he may want to hear some of that from
our vantage point. And of course I intend to do that.
So the principle purpose is to establish a working relationship with the
Prime Minister and his new team--his new colleagues.
I will be going on to Cairo in order to talk with President Mubarak
about the Arab Summit and to engage him in a discussion on how to find a
path forward. All of the parties have committed themselves to continue
the peace process. Out of the various statements and comments you can
see a common theme that the parties want to continue the peace process.
They do not regard the return to conflict as an acceptable alternative
and I will be trying to find ways to assist them in finding a path
I don't expect this will be a quick process. Indeed, it will clearly
take time and it will require the kind of persistence that I have shown
in some prior endeavors on this track. But discussing that I think will
take the time that I have. As you know it is kind of a quick trip
because it is focused on getting to Lyon by Wednesday evening to begin
the bilateral meetings and other proceedings around the Lyon Summit.
I think that is enough for openers. Now I am open to your questions.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Arab Summit. Netanyahu takes what they
did as a preconditions. Do you see what they said as preconditions?
And does it make your job a little more difficult?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Barry, I don't think it is useful for me to try
to parse the various elements of the communique or to make an analysis
of them one by one. Any document of that kind is necessarily so general
that it is not a very useful document for negotiating purposes. I think
that progress is made toward peace in the hard slogging negotiations
between parties and not in trying parse or interpret the generalities of
a broad communique. Indeed, when you look at the attendance of the Arab
Summit it is inevitable that it would have to be very general in
character trying to span the views of the leaders as diverse as those
from Sudan and Libya on one hand and Tunisia and Jordan on the other.
So I would much prefer to focus my time on trying to find ways to push
the parties to come back to the table and continue the negotiations that
have been very fruitful up to this point. All the parties have said
they want to go forward without preconditions and I would not want to be
hasty about finding anything that would prevent the negotiations from
going forward because my intent is just opposite.
QUESTION: Were you encouraged that they did not close any doors to talk
to this government?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I think they shouldn't close any doors. I think
they should keep them open to negotiations. I hope we will find that is
the result of various statements the parties have made and that is the
way I hope the generalities of the communique will be carried out in
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, just a few months ago many of those leaders
were in Sharm-el-Sheik showing solidarity for Israeli security. Now
they have seemed to embrace those, namely Libya and Sudan, who they met
only a few months ago to condemn. Don't you see that as a backing
tracking of their commitment?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I don't see it as a backtracking of their
commitment to be opposed to terrorism. The attendance at the Summit was
something that was decided on by the parties but I take their specific
commitment against terrorism to be one that I hope and believe will
govern their conduct in the future.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I am wondering if you will encourage the new
Prime Minister to have an early meeting with Arafat?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I think there should be good communication
between the new government in Israel and Chairman Arafat. I think it
will be up to them to find the right channels for that communication to
take place. It is obvious the prior government had a very open
communication in various ways with Chairman Arafat and I would be urging
the Prime Minister to do that but I will not be trying to make a precise
recommendation as to how he goes about it.
QUESTION: In the summit that took place over the weekend in Cairo
Moammar Gadhafi attended in violation of the UN sanctions that forbid
flights in and out of Libya. Do you consider this a violation of the no
fly zone and an insult to the UN sanctions and does the US plan to do
anything about it? And also do you consider this an insult to the
families of PAN-AM flight 103 and the memories of the people who were
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I believe the flight to Cairo was a violation of
the UN resolutions and I think that our position on Gadhafi is well
known and I don't intend to add any more to it right here today.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could you bring us up to date on the efforts
to form the monitoring group that you negotiated on your shuttle
mission. And have you discussed the details of that with the new
Israeli government and do they have any problems with that?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: We are making good progress toward the
finalization of the procedures for the monitoring group. There are
still some matters to be resolved and I would expect we might discuss
that while I am here. But those discussions have been taking place
primarily in Washington between Ambassadors there. But I think it would
be desirable if in the relatively near future we can button down those
procedures so that they are there and available in the event, and we
hope it will not happen, that there is another incident that would make
them useful. But I would say Steve, that will not be the primary focus
of my trip because those negotiations have been going on primarily in
QUESTION: I like to ask if you have any message for the Israelis today
after the elections and have seen that the relations between the two
countries may be effected because of the policies of the new government?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I think I will wait until I am in Israel and the
meeting with the Prime Minister. And I think it would be more
appropriate for me to comment after I have met with the Prime Minister
and his team. I will have opportunities to meet with you and the press
there at that time.
QUESTION: Do you want to say anything about Hebron, by chance?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Well on Hebron, I will simply say that the
redeployment in Hebron is part of the Interim Agreement and I think two
or three days ago, last Thursday or Friday, Prime Minister Netanyahu
said he intended to obey, to live up to all international agreements.
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