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U.S. Department of State
96/11/12 Remarks following meeting with Israeli ForMin Levy
Office of the Spokesman
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN
For Immediate Release November 12, 1996
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
FOLLOWING HIS MEETING WITH
ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER LEVY
Cairo International Conference Center
November 12, 1996
Today's conference I think shows that peace has a very important
economic dimension. The turnout at this conference is very impressive.
It builds steadily from Casablanca to Amman to here. There are more
American business representatives here. They are representatives of a
higher level. I know many of these men and women and they don't come
places as an excursion. They come because they think there's important
business to be done here. So, I think that's really a vote of
confidence in the peace process. It shows how resilient the process is
and how much people believe that this region is a place for opportunity
in the future.
I think that we owe a good deal of thanks to the Egyptians for having
put on this conference in these circumstances and to give business an
opportunity to express their will in the way they have by their very
strong attendance here.
Now I'd like to take a few questions.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you put a lot of time and effort into the
Middle East. It was your highest priority this year. It looks like
what -- maybe not a Hebron agreement? Should we assume there won't be
one before your time is up?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: No, on the contrary. I think that there will
be a Hebron agreement. I've met just in the last few hours with
Chairman Arafat, with President Mubarak, and now with Foreign Minister
Levy, with Foreign Minister Moussa. The Hebron agreement will come.
It's a matter of time. When it comes, you'll find it probably a much
more complicated agreement than you expect it to be because it is a
complex issue. I think that also in talking to people I find that
commitment to the continuity of the process going, making sure that
there is an understanding that they will go beyond Hebron when the
Hebron agreement is reached. Barry, I don't want to tie anything to my
own schedule. I think it's important that a Hebron agreement be reached,
but that it be right and fair and one that's doable when it is finally
reached. I have confidence that it will be reached.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, this will be your last visit to the Middle
East as Secretary of State. What are your feelings about what you've
done and left undone during these past four years?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I think there's been a major transformation in
the Middle East in the four years that I've been in office. I think
that there's been more accomplished in this four year period than any
other period, comparable period, in recent history. The economic
dimension has been very considerable, as reflected here and first in
Casablanca which was a great deal in itself and as I said there's been a
great progression from Casablanca to Amman to here. On the peace front
itself, we have two agreements between the Palestinians and the Arabs.
We have an important peace treaty with Jordan. Those are major changes
that have come about in a relatively short period of time and we have
progress toward normalization between Israel and the other countries. I
don't gainsay the fact that there's a lot of work yet to be done, but
there has been a major transformation of this area and I think that you
can see it in the fact that Israel is no longer isolated in the way it
was before. It was really impressive to see people walking back and
forth in the meetings today conversing and saying hello to people that
they have seen at prior conferences and see the Israeli Foreign Minister
and the Israeli Finance Minister present at these meetings.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary of State, what did your talks with President
Mubarak cover today?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Well, first we talked about this conference and
I expressed my admiration for the conduct of the conference. In fact, I
told him I thought it was very impressive the way that business leaders
from all over the world had come here. We talked about what that meant
for the continuity of the peace process. We also, of course, talked
about the importance of continuing to make progress on the Palestinian-
Israeli negotiation and the importance of reaching a Hebron deal in the
very near future and then as usual we talked about the whole range of
peace process issues, touching briefly on the Syrian track, as well,
referring to Jordan issues as well. I commended him on the influence
that Egypt now has for many years exerted in the peace process and urged
them to continue to play their constructive influence.
QUESTION: I would like to ask you if the American role will be
increased after the Israelis suggested many strange suggestions about
solving the peace process in the Middle East. For example suggestions
concerning the Hebron deployment and suggestions concerning self rule in
the Palestinian land?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I'm sorry; would you restate the first part of
QUESTION: I would like to know if the American role (will be) increased
after Israeli suggestions with regards to the peace process?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Well, the American role will continuously be a
constant one, an important one, but President Clinton made the peace
process a high priority at the beginning of our administration. He told
me to go wherever was necessary and do what was necessary to try to
advance the peace process. I've tried to do that in my four years. The
President and I discussed these matters in Little Rock last Tuesday
night, as the election returns were coming in. He pledged himself to
continue with this process and I'm sure that my successor will want to
devote the time that he can to try to ensure that this process moves
forward, and that we close the circle of peace to ensure that the
isolation that Israel has been in before is not repeated; indeed that we
move forward toward further normalization. The peace process cannot
stand still. It needs to be in motion; it needs to be moving forward
lest it might move backward due to some untoward incidents. The United
States will do its part. I think President Clinton has pledged in his
second term to continue to be active in the peace process.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you met with the bigs (sic) from the troika.
Did you highlight or discuss the coordination between the American and
the European goals, which to my opinion sometimes gets to compete in the
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I had a very good meeting last night -- a dinner
meeting with Foreign Minister Spring, who is the President of the
European Union at the present time. I would say that under his
leadership we've had better coordination than ever before between the EU
and the United States. We welcomed the appointment of their negotiator
for the region, who I met and had a good talk with. He has a good
reputation. I'm sure that now that we've established the basis for
working together, we'll work in even closer coordination. The EU plays
a very significant role, and now I think wasn't it significant that all
three foreign ministers of the troika -- the Italian Foreign Minister,
the Dutch Foreign Minister, and Foreign Minister Spring -- were here at
this conference reflecting their interest in the peace process and their
commitment to it? As you know, they provide very substantial funding
for the countries involved in the peace process, and I hope they'll
continue to do so. Thank you very much.
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