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Albright Remarks with Israeli Foreign Minister

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman (Jerusalem)

For Immediate Release June 28, 2000


Jerusalem June 28, 2000

FOREIGN MINISTER LEVY (in Hebrew): We have just concluded an excellent meeting between the Secretary of State, Madame Albright and her team, and between myself and our team. We had an excellent talk and we evaluated the situation through expressing our concern as well as our will to go ahead, to find the paths, in order to promote the peace process and move forward. I would like to thank the Secretary of State for her many efforts which she has invested in this process, also in her guidance which she gives to President Clinton, who is a friend of Israel, in order to examine the possibilities to promote the peace process. Of course there are difficulties, there are true difficulties. We cannot ignore them. We cannot act like an ostrich and put our heads in the sand, but we must see the reality as it is. We hope that following the meeting between the Secretary of State and Chairman Arafat we will be able to reexamine the situation as to a summit. The decision about a summit will be decided by President Clinton himself. We have an interest in the summit taking place, but everyone would agree that much work must be put in in order to ensure that the results of such a summit are good. We would like to ensure that it is a successful summit with also impetus for the future. As also the positive conclusions are not dependent only on Israel. There are also dependent on the other factors involved, and we hope that following the meeting between the Secretary of State and Chairman Arafat we will perhaps see that the matter has matured. As of now it has not yet matured.

I must also say that in the process of peace there is no place for threats and no place for militant declarations. All the solutions for all the issues must be solved around the table of negotiations. We must now ensure that the language of peace is used. Also for the trustworthiness of all sides, and that all should know the value of peace. That is what we expect from our partners to the peace process.

Again, I'd like to thank the Secretary of State, Mrs. Albright, as a friend and for her efforts that she puts in with trustworthiness.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, thank you very much, Foreign Minister Levy. We have, in fact, had an excellent meeting and have had the opportunity to discuss the various elements of the peace process and, I did have a very good meeting last night with the Prime Minister and I am about to go and meet with Chairman Arafat, which really is the purpose of my visit here is, as I have stated a number of times, the President asked me to come to the region now in order to deter, help him determine, whether there is a basis, a sufficient basis for going to a summit now or whether more work needs to be done. That is what I am kind of in the middle of doing and we all believe that clearly this is a very important point, that these are obviously, very difficult issues that we are dealing with. These are the most difficult issues that have been set aside for permanent status so, obviously, it is essential that both sides feel comfortable about moving forward with the process but, as the Foreign Minister said very clearly, it is the President of the United States who will make a decision about whether and when to go to a summit and I will be reporting to him on that. And, the Foreign Minister and I have had so many contacts over the last weeks and months and we will continue to do so and to be able to discuss issues, wide ranging issues of foreign policy, not only for this region but generally and, this was one of our excellent meetings. And, I am very grateful to him again. Thank you.

QUESTION (in Hebrew): Mr. Foreign Minister, I am referring to your speech on television yesterday. Your words on television reverberated all over the world, inside Israel and outside. I want to know whether those words came out of your heart or whether that was only in order to return to the Likud?

QUESTION: And for Secretary Albright, when do you expect the President to make his announcement about the summit. We heard today that the President is giving a press conference tonight. Will he announce something about the summit?

FOREIGN MINISTER LEVY (in Hebrew): What I said yesterday I repeat and say today again. It doesn't matter what the commentators say and in which powers they take my words, it is my obligation to say what I think as Foreign Minister. If I would hide or conceal what my thoughts are I would then be doing injustice to my position as Foreign Minister. As we know, the process is not dependent just on us. It is also dependent on the other factors. And in order to ensure a successful summit, we must ensure that it should be a successful summit, and therefore the things should be said. We cannot imagine to go forwards towards a summit and see it fail. The significance of such a move is clear to everybody. If I would have to choose between the one option of ignoring reality and not seeing the stubbornness, the extremism of the other side, even if it is portrayed as a tactic of some kind, and then be called an optimist, I would go for the other option. I would prefer to see the reality as it is and to continue contributing to the Prime Minister in the promoting of the process of peace. If in that I would be called a pessimist, I prefer that over being color blind. My obligation, as one who wants to see the process move forward, and as one who also does not want to harm in any way our friendship with the United States, I'll say my thoughts, as I see them, in the clearest way. When I went forward with the partnership with Prime Minister Barak, I did so with full mind and also with full loyalty, and also I saw the Prime Minister as the leader amongst equals. And I do this bearing the full responsibility. And therefore it is my obligation to say what I think. But the decisions are for the Prime Minister to make.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: And as far as the question that you asked me, the President sent me here in order to make an assessment and he will wait for my report before making that assessment and that decision. And, as I understand it, this press conference is before I get back, so he will not be making that announcement at that time.

QUESTION: Yesterday, you said Israel had given the maximum and hadn't received from the Palestinians the minimum of the minimum. Could you tell us what you would like from the Palestinians besides kinder words? You talk only about rhetoric but it seems to me the process is constantly of Israel giving and giving more and upping the ante, and upping the ante. What does Israel want in return? What do you want the Secretary to bring you tonight? And has this meeting advanced the summit in any which way?

FOREIGN MINISTER LEVY (in Hebrew): We do not want anything in exchange. We want a process, a process which is established and based on the principle of joint compromise of both sides. Israel has gone a long way forward and it will continue to go forward but it expects also the other side. It cannot accept a situation where the other side expresses itself in declarations which sends us years back, decades ago, when they talk of the lines of '67, Jerusalem, refugees etc. This is not a process of peace-- according to their thoughts, their perceptions of these issues-this is not a process of peace. This would be capitulation. Israel is not here to surrender. Israel is here for a process of peace and in this process the other side must also understand the idea of compromise. We must examine these issues, not through speeches and not through declarations. After declarations are made then they say they cannot change their position because of the opinion of the nation. Therefore, one must speak to the nation and go forward. The only way to go forward is to sit around the negotiating table and come to an understanding.

QUESTION: How do you see the bilateral relation between Algeria and the United States? And, do you intend to visit Algeria soon?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, let me say that I think it is excellent that you are with other Algerians in order to have discussions here and ask questions and to state your views. I hope it is not inappropriate for me to make that statement to you as a journalist but I think it is a very good idea that you are here.

I think our relations with Algeria are moving very much in the right direction. We appreciate very much the role that Algeria has played as Chairman of the OAU. In some very difficult situations recently, because of all the problems that exist in Africa and the role that President Boutaflika and Algeria has played in terms of the Ethiopia/Eritrea process, for example, has been most important and they have taken the role, as Chair, very seriously and we appreciate that. And, as far as my travels, I never know exactly where they are going to take me. If this last trip is any example I just can't ever predict but, I do think that are relations are moving in the right direction. Thank you.

QUESTION: At this critical juncture in the peace process, when mutual trust is needed with Israel, what kind of effect has the Israeli-China deal?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that we have made quite clear our concern about the potential Phalcon sale, but at the same time, we have also made very clear over the years that the security of Israel is of major importance to the United States. We have made clear our constant statements about making sure that Israel has a qualitative edge, and our security relationship is a very good one. As far as the sale itself is concerned, we are involved in a serious process with Israel to deal with the issue.

FOREIGN MINISTER LEVY (in Hebrew*): I would just like to add regarding the question that was asked that we are very attentive to the concerns of the United States in this matter. As friends, we are obligated together and we also discussed this today, to work together, the Secretary of State and myself -- and also the Prime Minister is active in this matter - in order to, as soon as possible, work to find a solution at a responsible level, and highest level possible, to find a solution that will remove any concern and any worry in this matter. Also to remove the concerns from the hearts of the Administration, the Congress and the citizens of the United States. It is clear, and we say this clearly without hesitation, that Israel, as a friend, and perhaps I can say the closest friend of the United States, will not do anything, anything, that will harm the national interests of the United States, or especially, the security of the United States in any way. We hope that in the few days to come we will find the solution that will be of satisfaction to both sides. But just the feeling itself that Israel, in some way or another, might harm the United States - that is the serious matter, and that is what must be removed as soon as possible.

I also appreciate the words of the Secretary of State regarding the concern of the United States for the interests of Israel, for the security of Israel, also in the matter of the arming of Israel. It is this understanding, as an alliance should move forward, for the interest, the security interests, and for the technological advancement of both countries which is also so essential for the security of Israel. I am certain, I am sure, that we will find the solution and very soon.

Thank you very much.


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