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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
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 communiqu 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
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 communiqu 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
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
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
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.
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