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Albright Interview on ABC's – Middle East Peace

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release July 10, 2000


July 10, 2000 Washington, DC

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good to be with you, Diane.

MS. SAWYER: As we heard in the news, in the space of several hours, the Israeli Prime Minister lost the support of six cabinet ministers. How much difference does it make that he's coming to the peace talks in such a weakened state?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, he is determined, and he made a remarkable speech yesterday to his people, talking about the importance of peace and his determination. He was elected with a mandate to make peace, and he wants to go forward. We are ready for him here, and Chairman Arafat will be, obviously. He's coming in late tonight, and Prime Minister Barak tomorrow morning.

And I think that it's obviously a complicating factor for Prime Minister Barak, but he's the one who has to make that judgment, and he made a very impassioned speech about it yesterday.

MS. SAWYER: As we know, the looming deadline is September 13th, the date on which Yasser Arafat says he will declare a Palestinian state. If these peace talks fail, and he does that, will the US recognize a Palestinian state?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, what we want very much is to see a new Palestinian entity within a comprehensive agreement of some kind, and unilateral acts are not the way that is the best way to move ahead in the Middle East. So we want to see something like that within a comprehensive agreement.

MS. SAWYER: You have talked about the concern about violence, if indeed we reach that point. Do you expect all-out war? What kind of violence?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well I think, Diane, the important point here is, we went to this summit. The President made that decision after talking with Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat and my trip out there, because we wanted to avoid violence, because the negotiators had kind of hit a dead end in terms of what they could do. They'd done a great job in crystallizing the issues, but only the leaders can make the hard decisions, and so we're trying to avoid this deteriorating into a violent situation.

MS. SAWYER: But taking just one of the issues that you're confronting in these talks, Jerusalem, Barak has said that it's an absolute -- an absolute -- that you have a united Jerusalem under Israeli rule, while the Palestinians say that East Jerusalem should be their capital. Where do you begin resolving this?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, that is obviously one of the key and most difficult issues. But these are the core issues; they're existential issues for both parties. Nobody said this was going to be easy, but we believe that a dynamic of a summit will help in terms of dealing with these issues, that we think we have a potential for dealing with them, but nobody is saying that this is easy.

MS. SAWYER: I want to turn, if I can, Madame Secretary, to one more issue, the national missile defense system and the test that took place on Friday night, early Saturday morning, which was, I think by most accounts, a spectacular failure. I know that you have said Defense Secretary Cohen will be recommending to the President whether to proceed or not, but can I ask you personally, do you think that the United States should proceed?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I don't have personal opinions, but let me just say this. I think that we as decision-makers have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect the territory of the United States. There is complicated technology obviously involved with this. We are waiting for Secretary Cohen's recommendation, but there are other criteria involved here: the extent of the threat, obviously, the technology, the cost, and what it does to our overall national security relationships and arms control regimes. And those are the criteria that President Clinton will be considering as he makes his decision later in the summer, based on our recommendations.

MS. SAWYER: All right. Well, again, Madame Secretary, I respect that you don't have personal opinions, but I've got to try, right?


MS. SAWYER: Thank you again for joining us this morning. Good to have you here.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Okay. Thanks, Diane.


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