Return to: Index of 1996 Secretary of State's Speeches/Testimonies || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage


U.S. Department of State
96/06/26 Press Conference with ForMin Moussa & Yasser Arafat, Egypt
Office of the Spokesman



                        U.S.DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
 
                        Office of the Spokesman 
 
____________________________________________________________________ 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                  June 26, 1996 
 
 
                       JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE BY 
                      FOREIGN MINISTER AMRE MOUSSA 
               PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN YASSER ARAFAT 
                   SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER 

                           ITTIHADAYA PALACE 
                             CAIRO, EGYPT  
                             June 26, 1996 
 
 
FOREIGN MINISTER MOUSSA:  On behalf of President Mubarak, I wish to 
welcome President Arafat and Secretary Christopher.  The talks between 
President Mubarak and Secretary Christopher, were very fruitful and 
important.  The Secretary reported to the President about his talks in 
Israel pertaining to the peace process and the position taken by the new 
Israeli government. The talks and consultations will continue.  As you 
know we expect a visit by the Prime Minister of Israel at the invitation 
of President Mubarak, then President Mubarak is going to visit the 
United States and the item of the agenda is the peace process, the basis 
of the peace process and how to guarantee a positive and sustained 
continuity of the process on the basis we all agreed upon within the 
verdict of Madrid -- mainly, land for peace.   
 
The discussion between the President and the Secretary centered around 
the peace process and other problems in the area.  We also heard the 
news of the explosion; the attack that took place in Saudi Arabia.  The 
President expressed his condolences and sympathy for the victims.  We do 
express those condolences to the government of Saudi Arabia and to the 
governments to whom the victims belong.  We are all against terror and 
violence and will continue to work for a most stable and safe Middle 
East.  You will recall that the final communiquŽ of the Arab summit has 
addressed this problem of terrorism and our position as Egypt has been 
committed to that language as came in that statement. 
 
I am not going to say any more than that, but that I'd like introduce 
President Arafat to address you all. 
 
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN ARAFAT:  First of all we have to thank 
President Mubarak for giving us the chance to have this meeting together 
here at his residence, and second, I am sending all my condolences for 
the victims of the explosion which happened yesterday to our brothers 
the Saudis.  Also I want to take this chance to convey this same message 
to President Clinton and other governments for this terror which caused 
the victims which have been declared, we condemn completely what has 
happened.  

We have, at the same, very important talks with His Excellency 
concerning the peace agreements between us and the Israel and we have 
reaffirmed completely our commitments to the peace process. We hope that 
the Israelis will be committed also like us to the peace process.  As 
you remember, it was clear and obvious in the Arab Summit Conference and 
the final communiquŽ that all Arab leaders that are committed and 
pushing  forward the peace process and we hope that the Israelis will 
follow the same line.  And especially implementing what has been agreed 
upon and what has been signed.  
 
There are many important points we are waiting for the Israelis to carry 
on like with the withdrawal from Hebron, the problem of the settlements, 
the (inaudible) of our detainees and prisoners and many other items 
including the determiners between us and Jordan and Cairo and, Egypt, 
and also the safe passage between the West Bank and Ghaza.  All of this 
has been discussed in good terms with the Excellency Secretary and we 
hope to continue this discussion.  And I'm here to repeat again we are 
committed, Your Excellency, to the peace process and hope that the other 
side -- Israel -- will be committed also to fulfill what has been agreed 
upon and what has been signed.  Thank you very much. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:   Good afternoon.  I am very pleased to be with 
you here in Cairo.  I have met with President Mubarak, Chairman Arafat 
and Foreign Minister Moussa.  Let me first say a few words about the 
situation in Saudi Arabia.  I am both terribly saddened and outraged by 
this terrorist attack on the American coalition military personnel in 
Saudi Arabia.  I want to express my deepest sympathy to the families of 
all of those involved, both killed or wounded.  
 
I have decided to travel to Dhahran this afternoon in order to access 
the situation personally and to give my condolences to the families and 
to visit the wounded.  This will enable me to report to President 
Clinton when I meet with him either very late tonight or in the very 
early hours of tomorrow morning.  
 
This new terrorist attack is a painful reminder that the threat of 
terrorism exists throughout this region and emphasizes once again the 
need for an effective and coordinated action against this scourge of 
terror.  At the same time, of course, it is not enough to combat terror 
alone; we must pursue peace with a new sense of determination and 
energy.          
 
During  our discussion today, we focused on ways to strengthen the Arab-
Israeli negotiating process which I know is of such importance here in 
Egypt and Egypt plays a very important role.   As the Foreign Minister 
said, I briefed the President on my conversation yesterday with Prime 
Minister Netanyahu and in turn he gave me a readout on the Arab Summit.  
We both agreed that now is the time to focus on the practical work; the 
work of negotiating.  What is very clear in the discussions I had in 
Israel yesterday and here today is both the Israelis and the Arabs have 
made a fundamental commitment to peace.  Our challenge now is to build 
on that commitment, build on this historic achievement of the past few 
years to reach a truly comprehensive peace. 
 
We must all work to preserve and implement agreements that have already 
been reached between the Israelis and the Palestinians; this would 
include both the Declaration of Principles. which was signed in 
Washington in 1994, the Gaza-Jericho Agreement signed here in Cairo, and 
the interim agreement signed last September 25, 1995. 
 
I told both President Mubarak and Chairman Arafat that Prime Minister 
Netanyahu has made it clear to me that he understands his obligation to 
honor all of these agreements.  He wants to develop a good working 
relationship with the Palestinians and I know he intends to take the 
proper steps in this direction.  We must also move forward to agreements 
between Israel, Syria and Lebanon.  In this context, Prime Minister 
Netanyahu indicated yesterday that he thought the Madrid framework was a 
very useful one for proceeding.  Clearly part of this effort must 
involve economic development and cooperation so the benefits of peace 
can be available to and enjoyed by all members of this region.  
 
I emphasized to Chairman Arafat today that the United States will 
continue to address the economic needs of the Palestinians and be 
helpful in every respect we can.  In addition, President Mubarak and I 
and Foreign Minister Moussa talked about the importance of the upcoming 
Cairo Economic Summit.  We pledged to work for its success.  I look 
forward to discussing this with President Mubarak as well as other 
issues when he comes to Washington to visit at the end of July. 
 
I appreciate very much the opportunity to be here, to meet with my 
colleagues to discuss these important issues at what is, in many 
respects, a tragic moment.  For our part, I want to emphasize that the 
United States will continue to regard the Arab-Israeli peace process as 
a very top priority.  We will strive to make it a reality.  The journey 
will not be short or easy,  nevertheless, I think we will continue to 
oppose those who are trying to undermine the peace process by terror or 
violence.  We must not let them succeed.  Working together with Israel, 
Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians and all those in the region, I know 
we can make real progress if we just stick to it and continue the 
persistence that has brought us this far.  Thank you Mr. Minister 
 
QUESTION:  A question for Mr. Secretary.  How far do you think the 
United States will continue to support the Israelis, despite the obvious 
breach of agreements approved in Madrid, and don't you think the 
American position and its support of Israel could lead to a sense of 
disappointment in the Arab world and that could endanger a few lives? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  In answer to your question, I would say the 
United States continues to strongly support the peace process which 
began in Madrid.  We will continue to work with all of the parties and 
strive to our utmost to carry forward a process that has brought us this 
far.  As I have said, the new Israeli government understands their 
obligations and respects their obligations under the agreements that 
have already been reached, including and especially those with the 
Palestinians, as well as of course with Jordan. 
 
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, in the press conference you had yesterday with 
Prime Minister Netanyahu you said that the United States is committed to 
strategic relations with Israel.  Does that mean that the United States 
would adopt the Israeli views declared by Netanyahu concerning the new 
settlements, the Golan, the Galilee and Jerusalem? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The United States has long had a strategic 
relationship with Israel, that is well known in the region and we do not 
intend to change that in any respect.  On the other hand, our position 
with respect to the other policies has not been changed.  We maintain 
those policies, but we also recognize and respect the fact that 
ultimately the agreements themselves, the hard work and negotiating lies 
ahead.  The parties themselves will negotiate them.   
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, you said in your statement right now that you 
sense that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is fundamentally committed 
to the peace process within the framework of the Madrid Peace Agreement.  
So my question is that the withdrawal of Israelis troops from Hebron is 
widely seen as a litmus test for the new Israeli government's commitment 
to the peace process.  So when will the Israeli troops pull out from 
Hebron, and whether the United States would be ready to exercise the 
sort of pressure on the new Israeli government so that it would comply 
with its commitments? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:   As I have said before, a withdrawal or 
redeployment, more accurately, from Hebron was part of the existing 
agreements.  The Israeli government indicated they will respect all 
international agreements.  Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated yesterday 
that he has spent a great deal of time on the Hebron issue and I believe 
that is where the matter stands at the present time. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Foreign Minister we're hearing, that this government is 
troubled by a news report which I have no acknowledge of whether it is 
accurate or not, that Egypt is receiving missile parts from North Korea 
and apparently also a little bit irritated by the way the visit of 
Moammar Qadaffi has been treated.  Can you set the record straight on 
this for us?  Is there something to these stories, or is it a malicious 
bit of business do you think?  
 
FOREIGN MINISTER MOUSSA:  First, the second part of your question, the 
President of Libya was here as a member of the Arab family of nations 
attending  the Arab Summit.  He had that right, the right to be invited 
and the right to attend. As for the first part of your question, this 
issue is one of the issues that have been raised lately but we believe 
that any such issue should be considered in the wider framework of the 
armaments situation in the area.  We should not talk about one 
particular aspect of whether this is happening or not, but the situation 
in the area is full of missiles and anti-missiles and highly 
sophisticated weapons and therefore this specific issue that you have 
raised, should be considered in the wider framework. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, what is the American perspective of the peace 
process on the Syrian track after Netanyahu's declaration that he would 
resume talks with Syria on the basis that they would not return back the 
land, the Golan Heights?  
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The United States believes that there should be 
discussions between Israel and Syria, as there have been in the past.  
We are looking toward to resolutions of problems between them.   They 
will clearly approach these negotiations from different vantage points.  
We hope that they will reach a resolution of those matters because that 
is what is necessary for a comprehensive peace.  We will continue to 
work with the parties in any way that we can to try to help them solve 
the differences that they bring to the negotiating table. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, the issue of security in Israel is becoming 
more increasingly important, even more important than peace in Israel 
now.  What about the security of the Arab world, especially when Israel 
is refusing to join the NPT and will the States try to convince Israel 
to join the treaty? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I was not able to hear all of your question.  
Let me repeat what I said yesterday.  It is impossible  to really 
imagine peace without security and it is also impossible, I think, to 
see that there can be security without peace.  That is why I think it is 
important for all of us to keep the focus on the peace process because, 
in the long run, that is where the ultimate security lies.  I was very 
pleased that the communique of the Arab Summit indicated that all of the 
Arab countries reinforce their determination to continue the peace 
process.  President Mubarak made that point emphatically to me and I was 
very glad that he regards that as one of the principle lessons from the 
Arab Summit that they have had. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, in light of the "no's" Mr.  Netanyahu 
announced very lately, is the United States ready to accept and approve 
any changes in principles of which the peace process has started?   
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's an awfully broad question, but the United 
States has not changed or abandoned any of its positions.   We continue 
to maintain positions that go back to the Madrid conference.  But I want 
stress to you that, as it was at that time, the ultimate decisions, the 
ultimate negotiations depend upon the hard work and negotiations between 
the parties.  Just as they did between Jordan and Israel when they  
worked out their peace treaties, just as they did between the 
Palestinians and the Israelis as they negotiated first a declaration of 
principles and then a subsequent agreement.  These generalities have 
only a certain value, and what really counts, from the stand-point of 
achieving ultimate peace, is the hard work and day-to-day, long hours of 
slogging through negotiations.  And that is what lies ahead for the 
parties as they seek to achieve peace. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, according to the hard-line Israeli refusal to 
resume peace talks between the Arabs and the Israelis, in accordance 
with land for peace formula.  What are the basis that you have seen now 
as a way to resume peace talks between the Arabs and the Israelis? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I'm getting an unfair distribution of questions 
(laughter).   If I understand your question correctly, let me say this.  
The United States has had the policy and continues to have the policy of 
land for peace.  But at the same time as I mentioned a couple of times 
here at this conference, generalities do not produce peace agreements.  
What produces    peace agreements are the difficult negotiations between 
the parties and the parties will have to move into thosppe close 
negotiations taking into account general principles.  But they have to 
apply them in the context of reality.   
 
QUESTION:   (Arabic) President Arafat, do you agree with the American 
position and the support of Secretary Christopher, and what is your 
opinion on Netanyahu's accusation that you are procrastinating in 
confronting terrorism? 
 
CHAIRMAN ARAFAT:  (Arabic) We thank President Clinton and the American 
administration for their effort exerted to establish the basis of peace 
in the region and to implement what has been agreed upon and signed in 
Cairo and Washington as you remember.  This visit of Christopher is for 
the sake of pushing the peace process.  But meanwhile we are saying that 
the Israeli party should respect what has been agreed upon and signed in 
Cairo and Washington.  I said at the beginning the withdrawal from 
Hebron, (inaudible) non-deployment in the remaining parts of the West 
Bank and Gaza as well as the safe passage between the (West) Bank and 
Gaza and lifting the siege imposed on us for a long time and still 
continuing.  What we want, we are committed to the peace process, but 
the other party should adhere to the peace process as well.  They want 
to separate us from them but it is not their right to separate between 
us and Egypt or between us and other Arabs. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, what's your view concerning exactly the future 
of settlements and Jerusalem issues?  
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Those are both final status issues.  Both the 
Israelis and the Palestinians are committed to discuss those issues as 
part of the final status talks which are scheduled to commence, probably 
in the near future, and extend over the next three years, according to 
the agreement.  Those are very difficult, and central issues, but they 
will be part of the final status. 
 
FOREIGN SECRETARY MOUSSA:  Now we have to conclude this press conference 
because of the schedules of both the Secretary and the Chairman but I 
want you to know something that I wish to affirm that we all need the 
role of the United States as an honest broker and fair mediator in the 
peace process.  We are all for peace, the cause of peace and to conclude 
peace agreements between the Palestinians and Israelis, between Syria 
and Israel, between Lebanon and Israel, a comprehensive peace is what we 
are after. 
 
The role of the United States is appreciated, is needed, is stressed in 
the forthcoming contacts, in particular the visit of President Mubarak 
to Washington.  This position will be stressed in particular that the 
peace process should continue according to the Madrid formula, according 
to the principles of Madrid and agreed upon in Madrid and those treaties 
are not negotiable but they are sine qua non for the peace to continue.  
Thank you very much.   
To the top of this page