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Albright Interview on CBS – Middle East Peace

Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release July 10, 2000


July 10, 2000 Washington, DC

MS. CLAYSON: Tomorrow's Camp David summit between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is being overshadowed this morning by political upheaval in Tel Aviv. Barak faces three no confidence votes, and comes to the summit with a fragile coalition. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will take part in the talks. She's at the State Department this morning.

Good morning, Madame Secretary.


MS. CLAYSON: Prime Minister Barak's decision to participate in this summit has essentially thrown his country into turmoil. How do you see Israel's disarray at this moment affecting this meeting?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, the most important thing is that Prime Minister Barak himself was elected on a mandate to make peace, and the sense is that the Israeli people are behind him on this, and that is the important aspect of this. He is the leader, and he is coming with that kind of a sense that the people of Israel want the peace.

MS. CLAYSON: You were scheduled to meet with President Clinton last night, before this meeting. What was his reaction to this deteriorating situation in Israel?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think we all understand that it's a very difficult political situation; these are very difficult decisions. I think that everybody knows that, going into this summit, these are historic decisions, the hardest ones that the leaders have to make, and they are the ones that will be responsible for them. And so President Clinton obviously understands and wants everything to move forward, and is prepared to really roll up his sleeves and work. He is completely immersed in all the issues, and we're ready to go.

MS. CLAYSON: You also spent time this weekend with the Israeli and the Palestinian negotiators. Can you tell me the tone of those meetings?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think they are realistic and ready, and I hope resourceful, in terms of thinking of how we move through these very hard issues.

MS. CLAYSON: Many say the future of Jerusalem is really the deal breaker at this summit. Agree, disagree?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, there are core issues that have been at the -- that clearly are the most difficult, and they have to do with borders and refugees and security and Jerusalem. Those are the big issues. And for one reason or another each of them is very important, which is why they have been put off so long.

MS. CLAYSON: Yasser Arafat, however, has his eye on East Jerusalem as part of a Palestinian state, as well as its capital, correct?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, that's what he would like to see, and I think that obviously Jerusalem is very important. But I don't -- I think that the most important thing at this stage is that the leaders know that they have to deal with these hard issues.

MS. CLAYSON: Newsweek magazine reports, as you might know, that if the summit breaks up without an accord, both sides are preparing for "a terrible blood letting," possibly an all out guerrilla war that could set relations back to the grim 1960s and '70s. What's your reaction to that?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that it's very hard to speculate on what will happen after, but I can just tell you this: that the reason that the President decided to go to a summit at this time, on the request of the leaders, is basically because we were concerned about the deterioration of the situation between them and in the region. And so one is always concerned about the fact that this could deteriorate into violence. And the reason that everybody is taking this calculated risk for a summit is in order to avoid something like that.

MS. CLAYSON: Many say that the most likely outcome of this summit will be a partial accord, leaving a lot of unfinished business for the next administration. Is that likely?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, we know very well that the Middle East peace process is a continuum, but what we need to do is everything we can to give it our best effort. These issues are very important. They can be dealt with, and we're going in with a positive attitude.

MS. CLAYSON: In your opinion, Madame Secretary, what is the minimum amount of success necessary for progress at this summit?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I am not going to speculate on that now. We're going in, in order to work, and to really deal with these hard issues. The President is prepared to do that. He will be there the majority of the time. I'll be there all the time. We're going to keep working it, and we will give it everything we have.

MS. CLAYSON: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Madame Secretary, thank you, and good luck.



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