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Albright Remarks with Palestinian Chairman

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

For Immediate Release June 28, 2000


Ramallah, West Bank June 28, 2000

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (in Arabic): First of all I would like to warmly welcome Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. I would like to thank her for all the efforts that she is exerting to help us. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank President Clinton for all of his efforts, his personal efforts, as well as the efforts of the Secretary of State and the entire US administration in order to advance the peace process, move it forward and save it and make sure that the process is working through solid steps in order to really ensure the peace, that it is just, durable and comprehensive in the Middle East. This is a peace for our children, as well as their children.

Madam Secretary, once again, thank you for coming.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I believe that we agree on the fact that we had a very useful meeting. We discussed a range of issues but our focus was on the current state of play in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations of permanent status. In that regard, we have been working hard with both sides separately and together in order to advance the negotiations. At the same time it is critical that the parties continue their efforts with one another to narrow the gaps. As you know the President sent me to the region to determine whether a basis exists for bringing the leaders to Washington for a summit or whether additional work is required. I will be reporting to the President when I return to Washington so, obviously I won't be commenting on impressions and any recommendations that I might make except to say that it will be President Clinton who will decide when it is appropriate to hold a summit.

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (in Arabic): I would like to say that we welcome very warmly these words from Secretary Albright, and also we welcome the decisions that President Clinton will make.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: And let me say that both Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak have made clear to me, as the Chairman just did, that they are seriously committed to reaching an agreement, and that they understand that there's a historical opportunity that exists also.

Now before I close, I have a surprise for the Chairman, and that is that I would like to announce our endeavor to establish a scholarship program for the Palestinians. I am very pleased to inform the Chairman that the United States has established a $35 million scholarship program for students from the West Bank and Gaza to study in American universities. The scholarship program will be for highly qualified students studying for the Masters of Business Administration or Masters of Public Administration degrees. And our objective is to create a cadre of highly trained experts who will devote their talents to building a strong foundation for the public and private sectors in the West Bank and Gaza. This program is another step in developing bilateral relations between us, and we hope that this program will demonstrate the benefits of U.S.-Palestinian cooperation, and help the Palestinians build for their future.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, (inaudible) Barak announced about the Israeli red lines again. What is your reaction about this and where is the American role between the Israeli red lines and the Palestinian red lines.

QUESTION (in Arabic): Ehud Barak again reaffirmed the Israeli red lines on not giving back Jerusalem for any price and not going back to the '67 borders. Do you think that according to the peace negotiation process is there any way the Palestinians will bridge closer to the Israeli red lines?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I have not heard Prime Minister Barak's announcement, and so I am not going to comment on it. The important point here is that the parties have to work together to narrow these gaps. These are very serious decisions that they are undertaking now, and the United States will do what we can, but it's the leaders themselves who will have to make the decisions. But I am not going to comment on statements I haven't read.

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (in Arabic): Why did he fully implement 425 in South Lebanon? And why did he implement 242 on the Egyptian track and on the Jordanian track? Even on the Syrian track there was an agreement related to the return of all the land and the removal of the settlements, as it happened in regarding the settlements in Sinai.

QUESTION: Mr. Chairman, how do you proceed from now? The Secretary said twice that it is up now, apparently, to the Israelis and the Palestinians to do the heavy lifting. What happens next? And in your statement when you thanked the President for trying to save the process. Is it in critical shape? Is it critically ill?

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (in Arabic): Perhaps you need to fully understand what I am saying. I do not need to repeat what I am saying and maybe you will need some tutoring in order to become a successful journalist.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, (inaudible) is there any significance to the fact that you said it will be up to President Clinton to decide when it is appropriate for a summit (inaudible).

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, as I said, I will be going back, you have to take the sentence all together, to report to him on whether I see that there is a basis for doing so, and so I think you need to take both parts of the sentences together.


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