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U.S. Department of State
96/10/05 Press Briefing enroute to Jerulalem
Office of the Spokesman

                          U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                           Office of the Spokesman
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 October 5, 1996

                          PRESS BRIEFING BY
                        (ENROUTE TO JERUSALEM)

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Welcome to the Africa trip, with a short detour 
in the beginning.  Just a moment or two about our schedule, which is 
been put together, more or less, at the last minute.  I'll be meeting 
with Prime Minister Netanyahu at three o'clock tomorrow.  We will then 
go down to Gaza to meet with Chairman Arafat at six o'clock.  On Monday 
morning I'm having breakfast with Foreign Minister Levy, and meeting 
with President Weizman.  We will then go to the airport for possibly a 
noon departure for Bamako.

The way I see the situation is that the parties are now taking advantage 
of what was achieved in the Washington meeting.  The situation is 
relatively quiet.  The violence seems to have subsided and that, of 
course, I think, was at least partly accountable, maybe more than that 
to the Washington meeting. 

Second, the parties are taking advantage of the improved personal 
relationship, that resulted from the personal time they had together, in 
the Washington meeting. 

Finally, the parties will be in a position to take advantage of the 
resumed negotiations, with the presence of the United States, resumed, 
intensified, continuous negotiations with the United States as a 

I think the time between the end of the Washington Summit meeting and 
now has been valuable for the parties.  I was reminding myself that the 
decisions in the Washington meeting were taken at the very last moment.  
As you know, until the very intensive discussions on that last morning 
at the State Department and then at the White House, the basic outlines 
of the agreement were not reached.  So, in the time since then, the 
parties have had an opportunity to reflect on what was done there and 
probably more importantly to begin to prepare for these meetings, which 
are going to commence tomorrow.

I have looked forward to this Africa trip -- which I very much wanted to 
take and will take -- but I simply didn't feel comfortable in leaving 
for Africa without coming out and having another opportunity to talk to 
the two leaders and indicate the President's views and my views.  It 
seems to be a good opportunity to basically stress three points:

First, the need to have some significant results come from these resumed 
negotiations.  Second, the urgency of the matter and the shortness of 
time for making this kind of progress.  Third, to stress the importance 
of the commitment they made in Washington to become personally involved 
in the negotiations, if they are not making significant progress.  Those 
are three important points that I will look forward to making to both of 
the leaders when I meet with them tomorrow.

I think maybe that's enough to give you the background and the reasons 
for my trip.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, when you talk about urgency how much time do 
you think we have, a week, two weeks, a month to show progress and can 
you talk a little about the Europeans and how they see it; Chirac, in 
particular, seems to want to get his hand into these negotiations?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't think one could make any specific time-
line.  It's clear that the sooner the better is as far as progress is 
concerned.  I think the parties in the region will be assessing the way 
the negotiations are conducted and I do think there is an element of 
urgency about the that needs to be appreciated by the parties.

With respect to the Europeans, it's clear the Europeans have a very 
strong, legitimate interest in these negotiations.  It's, in many ways, 
exactly the same interest as ours.  They have been a major supporter of 
the Palestinians from a financial standpoint and they've made a further 
commitment along those lines.  I think that their communicating with the 
leaders, urging them to reach some conclusion, is positive.  But we also 
have to remember that these are bilateral negotiations and I think any 
major change in the bilateral character of these negotiations is not 
likely to take place.  These are not multilateral negotiations.

The United States has a history of assisting the parties.  We know the 
agreements very well and we have gone back and forth between the 
parties, as Chairman Arafat has shuttled by telephone as well as in 
person.  I think those are the plus factors with our being able to serve 
as a facilitator of the negotiations without breaking their essential 
bilateral character.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary I observed the events of this past week from a 
safe distance of 2000 miles, while I was on vacation.  When you're 
simply not a direct participant, you're looking at this from the 
outside, it does seem to me that there has been a quality of 
unilateralism and pronouncement-issuing on the side of the Israelis.  
That is part of the problem and not part of the solution.  I wonder if 
you could tell me a little bit about how you think the Israelis are 
going to proceed now to break this pattern of simply making their own 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think the Israelis as well as the Palestinians 
recognize that the full core and focus of these resumed negotiations is 
on the implementation of the interim agreement.  These are not the final 
status talks.  They are not talks to revise the interim agreement; they 
are talks to determine how to implement it.  That's a subject in which 
the Israelis have a very strong interest and I think the Israelis will 
approach the resumed negotiations in terms of how they can implement and 
carry out the interim agreements, in light of the new circumstances in 
the region.  Not to change the agreement, but to reflect in security 
measures and other measures the reality that there have been some 
changes resulting from this serious tragic episode of violence over the 
course of the week prior to the Washington meetings.

I think that they will be approached on a bilateral basis seeking a 
basis for this implementation and I think that the bilateral process 
will be considerably enhanced by the several hours that Prime Minister 
Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat spent together in Washington.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, I was a little puzzled that you decided at the 
last minute to make this detour because one would think having talked to 
you and the President on Wednesday, that there would be little new to 
say to the two men that has changed in the last two days.  So I'm 
wondering why a decision was made let's say on Thursday that wasn't made 
on Wednesday?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I talked to the President about the situation.  
We both felt the Washington meeting had come together, really, at the 
last minute.  The parties had not had time to reflect on the decisions 
that were reached there or to prepare for the meetings.  As I said to 
you, I simply -- from a personal standpoint -- felt I did not want to 
launch on the Africa trip with preoccupations of that, without another 
opportunity to meet with the parties and to stress those three points.  
That is the importance of significant progress, the urgency of it, and 
essentially a reminder of their commitment that they would become 
personally involved if the progress wasn't made.

It seemed to the President and it seemed to me that this was a useful 
message to convey before or right at, contemporaneous with the 
commencement of the talks.

What it reflects, among other things, is the importance of continuous 
U.S. involvement.  Our involvement can't just be sporadic, but we have 
to be involved on a very regular basis and so I think that this is a 
good time to be there and it's a different time than the moment when 
they concluded in Washington.  This is the beginning of a new phase, a 
resumption of the negotiations.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, what can you possibly say to either of the 
parties on this trip that wasn't already said to them in Washington and 
secondly, what do you say to cynics who say nothing is going to happen 
until after the U.S. election and that this is really just a stalling 
motion to prevent violence until that moment?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  As far as what we can say, it seems to me we 
can, in the context of the will to calm the area, in the context of the 
new personal relationship between the parties, and the resumed 
negotiations, emphasize the importance of making progress, talk to them 
about the issues on the agenda and try to assess with them the areas 
that are the most promising.  Clearly, the issue at the top of the 
agenda is Hebron, but there are other issues and I think for the benefit 
of some days' reflection on their part and some reflection on our part, 
it is very timely and important that we have this opportunity to talk 
with them.

I was very pleased by the immediate positive response from both of them 
when I offered to come out to the region.  I think that the U.S. 
elections are not a factor in this situation.  We have a situation that 
is quiet on the ground, at the present time, but it remains a dangerous 
situation.  The United States will be working on these problems every 
day before the elections and every day after the election with the same 
quality of urgency and concern.  There seems to be some tendency around 
the world, not just on this problem, but problems in almost every region 
to think that somehow things are going to change dramatically, after the 
U.S. election.  My own feeling is that we will have the same 
responsibilities and the same problems, same opportunities after the 
election as before; hoping first that President Clinton is re-elected. 

Thank you very much and thank you all for coming on this trip.  I think 
we're going to have a very good trip to Africa.  I'm looking forward to 
that.  I appreciate you all making the trip, thank you.

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