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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
For Immediate Release September 30, 1996
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
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
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
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
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
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
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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