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U.S. Department of State  
96/09/30 Remarks with Czech Rep. PriMin Klaus prior to Meeting  
Office of the Spokesman  
  
  
                       U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE  
                       Office of the Spokesman  
                           Washington, D.C.  
  
  
For Immediate Release                          September 30, 1996  
  
  
  
                            REMARKS BY  
                SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER  
                              AND  
              ZECH REPUBLIC PRIME MINISTER VACLAV KLAUS  
                         PRIOR TO THEIR MEETING  
  
  
  
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I am very pleased to welcome here again the   
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mr. Klaus.  The Czech Republic, of   
course, is an increasingly important partner of the United States, and I   
always enjoy the opportunity to get together with Mr. Klaus, who has   
played such a tremendous role in the success and prosperity of his   
country.    
  
Our discussion today, I'm sure, will focus on the integration of the   
Czech Republic into Western institutions.  I plan to remind the Prime   
Minister of what I said in Stuttgart and that is that it is our   
expectation the NATO leaders will hold a summit sometime in the spring   
or early summer of 1997.  At that time, we expect the first candidates   
for NATO membership to be identified for the beginning of negotiations   
for membership in NATO.    
  
The Czech Republic is certainly taking all the right steps to prepare   
for possible NATO membership.  Just as important as that, their armed   
forces are gaining experience and serving together with ours and other   
NATO members in Bosnia.  You've certainly made a vital contribution   
also, Mr. Prime Minister, to the transition of Eastern Slavonia.  
  
We are anxious, as I said in Stuttgart, to work hard on building a New   
Atlantic Community for the next century.  We're sure that the Czech   
Republic will play an important role as a solid partner of the United   
States.  We look forward to working with the Prime Minister as one of   
NATO's outstanding leaders in moving toward this New Atlantic Community.    
  
Mr. Prime Minister, it is very nice to have you here.  Thank you very   
much for this visit.  
  
PRIME MINISTER KLAUS:  I would like to say a few words.  I fully agree   
with Secretary Christopher.  We are -- the Czech Republic is real   
interested in entering NATO.  We have the feeling that we belong to NATO   
-- just as fifty years of communism prevented us from being one of the   
founding fathers of NATO and the European Community as well.  So we hope   
that the moment of our entry is approaching and we are real interested   
in what is called now the New Atlantic Initiative, New Atlantic   
Partnership, because we definitely don't want to be just close to   
Europe.  A trans-Atlantic cooperation is for us a crucial thing and this   
is something I would like to stress in my talks with Secretary   
Christopher.  
  
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, are you disappointed at all that President   
Mubarak will not be able to come this week to the Mideast summit?  Are   
you concerned at all that some in the Arab world may have too-high   
expectations for this Washington summit?  
  
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me first say, David, that it is clear to me   
that the Middle East peace process is in a state of crisis.  The   
President took an extraordinary step in inviting the parties to come   
here to Washington for these meetings.  The parties have an important   
responsibility to end the violence and to start rebuilding confidence   
between them.  The United States will try to help the parties shoulder   
that responsibility and to restore the peace process.  
  
I think we're fortunate that the leaders have been able to come here on   
such short notice.  Egypt has always played a major role in the Middle   
East peace process, and I'm sure they'll continue to do so.  It would   
have been good if President Mubarak had been able to come, but he has   
told us that he would have Foreign Minister Moussa come here to be   
available for consultation with the parties, and we appreciate that.  So   
the conference will go forward.  
  
As far as expectations are concerned, as I said yesterday, I think we   
ought to recognize the limitations.  The parties are quite estranged and   
raw because of the violence and killings.  I hope that we can at least   
meet these basic objectives:  First, that the parties will begin to talk   
together again; second, that they will commit to end the violence; and   
third, that they will find a basis for resuming negotiations.  Those are   
our basic goals, and I think the parties will have an opportunity to go   
beyond that as they pursue the negotiations, which hopefully can be   
restarted here.  
  
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, you said the peace process is in a state of   
crisis.  Is the peace process at risk?  
  
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It certainly is at risk, and that's why the   
President took this extraordinary initiative to bring the parties here   
and to bring the prestige of the United States to bear on bringing them   
back into conversations.  
  
I think you all know that I have been spending virtually around-the-  
clock for the last three or four days trying to find a basis for   
bringing them together.  The best basis, in many ways the sole basis,   
for achieving that was inviting them to come here to the United States.    
We wouldn't have done that if we didn't think the peace process was at   
risk, and we hope it can be restarted with the parties committing to end   
the violence and go back to the negotiating table.  
  
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, does the United States feel that Israel   
retains ultimate responsibility for security in the West Bank and Gaza   
Strip?  
  
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Those are certainly matters that are encompassed   
in the Oslo agreements.  The matters are spelled out carefully in the   
Oslo agreements, Oslo I and Oslo II.  The responsibilities for security   
are outlined there, in those agreements, and what the parties will be   
talking about is the moving along a path laid out by Oslo II defining   
the redeployment.  It certainly would not be wise for me to try to go   
over all that ground at the present time.  That's really what the   
parties need to do in the shared responsibilities that they have.  
  
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, I'd like to go back to Charlie's question.    
What would you say is at stake in these talks if they were to fail?  
  
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, certainly there are some things that would   
continue forward.  That is, the peace agreement between Jordan and   
Israel is an enduring agreement.  King Hussein is coming here to lend   
his considerable prestige and authority.  In addition to that, Israel   
had more normal relationships with a number of Arab countries, and the   
economic cooperation is very impressive.  
  
What is considerably at risk is a continuation of the violence which   
we've seen in the last few days.  The parties have to commit to end that   
violence and to get back to the negotiating table.  If they do not do   
that, the risk of continued violence is far too high.  The Middle East   
peace process, some have said, is much like riding a bicycle, you have   
to keep going forward.  It does not operate very well when it tries to   
stay in neutral, without momentum going forward.  We'd like to restore   
that momentum.  
  
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, what are the major points that have to be   
discussed, due to the fact that I think over the weekend you said   
something about the Hebron issue was so very important and very touchy   
and explosive situation in Hebron.  Also, the tanks that Israeli   
government put into the whole villages and cities cut the Palestinians   
from going and coming, and put in these tanks and everything.  Are these   
the things that could be discussed?  
  
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I outlined the three basic objectives that we   
had to get the parties back into discussions face-to-face, which they   
have not been for the last several days amidst the violence; having a   
commitment to end the violence; and, an agreement to resume the   
negotiations.  If they resume the negotiations, the matters that you   
mentioned obviously will be on the agenda, and clearly Hebron is a key   
matter on the agenda.  Both parties have spoken to that issue themselves   
in the last 24 or 48 hours.  
  
I think that the agenda, basically, is carrying out Oslo II and then   
moving forward to the current status negotiations, which is a very long   
agenda, but unless the parties start on it, it will never be completed.  
  
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, do you know of any agreement, outside, I   
guess, of common sense, that prohibited Israel from opening the entrance   
to a tourist tunnel that has existed for a long time?  
  
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's clearly a subject, Barry, on which the   
parties have strong differences of opinion.  It's certainly not for me   
to characterize that issue in advance of the parties' having an   
opportunity to discuss it with each other.  
  
QUESTION:  Mr. Prime Minister, regarding the expansion of NATO, don't   
you think that the current situation in Russia and the health problems   
of President Yeltsin might slow down the process, or --   
  
PRIME MINISTER KLAUS:  I hope that the decision to accept countries like   
the Czech Republic into NATO is not totally dependent on the stances of   
Russia and on the health of President Yeltsin.  I don't think it's   
necessary to combine those two things together.  I think that they could   
be sort of independent.  
  
QUESTION:  Thank you.  
  
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