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Albright Explains Visit To The Pope

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman (On Board the Secretary's Plane)

For immediate release July 31, 2000

Press Briefing by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright On Board Plane en route Rome, Italy from Tokyo, Japan July 31, 2000

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The reason I'm taking advantage of going home this direction is that during the Camp David talks I had talked to the Vatican, actually a couple of times, the first time I talked to the Prime Minster and the second time to Tauran, because they clearly have an interest in the holy places and they had also shown an interest in knowing what was going on. So I thought that since we are obviously going to go on with these talks in some format, that it would be useful to meet with the Vatican.

I have also asked President Djukanovic to come and meet me and we're going to be talking about obviously the most recent developments as far as the elections are concerned and the things that are going on in Montenegro. I talk to him on a pretty regular basis. I talked to him actually from Camp David about things that were going on and I think it's useful to have a chance to meet with him.

QUESTION: Is part of the idea then of one of the compromises that the three religions, that religious access, kind of religious sovereignty would be put over the holy sites, is that part of what you're going to talk about with the Vatican.?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The discussions that we had at Camp David indicated that it was possible to kind of parse the various issues that were there and to see about -- I mean these were some of the thoughts that were out there, about treating the holy sites one way, treating the Old City a different way, and then kind of moving out in concentric circles about inner neighborhoods, outer neighborhoods. I think it's just worth exploring what the options are. Frankly I just thought that it was a good idea to have contact with them because when I called in the middle of Camp David they were interested and helpful. On the second phone call, Mr. Tauran really wanted to know all about the talks themselves because they obviously also have interest in the humanitarian aspects and the question of refugees and those kinds of things. So I've touched base with a lot of people on this.

QUESTION: Is it your view that the Palestinian side is going to have to make the compromise at this point or is everything back to where it was like Barak said, everything is null and void or do you still think that to get this deal there is going to have to be some sense of compromise over sovereignty, sovereignty by the Palestinians over East Jerusalem and that's sort of what you might be pursuing?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, we have said as a standard point that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to and that the various ideas that were on the table were off the table because they weren't agreed. But clearly there were some very interesting ideas raised and considered. We have said all along that neither side can get a hundred percent of what it wanted. That is true across the board. And this is a unique situation where two people want to have the same area, and the same places and have call on saying that the holy places are holy to each of them in different ways. But there are ways we think of trying to figure out -- there has to be some compromise. It's not possible for both sides to have a hundred percent.

QUESTION: What was the reaction from Barak and Arafat to the Pope's idea. Is this something ....

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The reaction was not positive. Neither side wants to have this. The Palestinians have talked about having an open city and they have talked about some general ideas but I don't think it's fair to say that either side kind of thought that internationalizing it per se was the way to do.

QUESTION: When you walk in, are you going to say "this is one suggestion that came up, this is another suggestion that came up, what would your reaction be?"

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I just want to share views with them. I mean they are wise and I think have had a long term interest in this and I just think it's worth talking about. I also am going to, and this has not been part of the original plan, I have spent some time at the Vatican talking to them about Cuba. We haven't had a chance to talk recently. I think that Foreign Minister Tauran, or His Excellency, has some interesting ideas about that.

QUESTION: He was in Cuba with the Pope?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I'm not sure about that. But you know when I was here, I met with the Pope specifically and then followed up with Tauran after the Pope's visit to Cuba and I just think that they have a lot of interesting thoughts about it. We haven't talked recently.

QUESTION: On Djukanovic, is there anything specific? You made a point of making it very public that you had called him from Camp David in support of Montenegro.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We're generally concerned about what Milosevic may be up to. The fact that he rejiggered the constitution in order to be able to now have even more concentrated authoritarian power and what could be a phony election process which effects affects Montenegro. I think it's worth talking to Djukanovic and seeing where he sees the issue going, where he considers the danger points. I also, when we were in Bangkok, spoke with Chris Patten about the necessity of additional assistance to Montenegro by the EU. It's one of my regular subjects with my foreign minister colleagues about the necessity of trying to get more assistance in there. They're an anomaly because they can't have assistance from international banking because they are not a country and yet they need help and so we've been talking about getting more assistance out of the EBRD. And I just want to see where Djukanovic is. Jim O'Brien has been traveling around the region. So he's going to meet me and we're going to review the bidding on a lot of issues.

QUESTION: Has Djukanovic said that he will come to see you in Rome?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes.

QUESTION: Any more to add on North Korea?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Everybody has been so fascinated by what is going on and the meetings with the North Korean Foreign Minister and trying to figure out what the next phases are. And I have said that we have to practice balanced euphoria. And that clearly this is a huge historic change potentially but there are a lot of steps that need to be taken. They have to meet our concerns. The Japanese also agreed that they have their concerns. As part of the trilateral consultations we kind of raise each others concerns. What happened between North and South and their movement now toward establishing these liaison offices. That's important as they fill out the details of what the South-North summit was about. So those are steps that need to be taken. I think everybody really is excited and interested and trying to figure out what it all means. But I do think we have to take it a step at a time -- balanced euphoria

QUESTION: Are we beyond the point with North Korea where we know this isn't just some inscrutable move by the North for some unrelated motive or do you really think they want to come out and be a player?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that they are learning that they can't function as an isolated country. They clearly do have very serious economic problems and are making some kind of calculus about being recipients of additional help in some form or another. It seems to me that Kim Jong Il had made an active decision to engage with Kim Dae Jung. He holds ultimate power so he can pull things back. But Kim Dae Jung I think has been very careful in the way he's gone forward with this.

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