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US/Egyptian Comments On Peace Process

Remarks by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Egyptian Presidential Envoy Osama El-Baz after their Meeting

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman For Immediate Release August 17, 2001

Remarks by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Egyptian Presidential Envoy Osama El-Baz After Their Meeting August 17, 2001 C Street Entrance Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, everyone. I only have a minute, because I've got a swearing in in about two minutes. But I didn't want to miss the opportunity to welcome again my old friend Dr. Baz. He and I have just had a good discussion of bilateral relations between the United States and Egypt, which are in a very, very sound footing and continue to grow with each passing day, and I expressed my best wishes once again to President Mubarak and my colleague, Foreign Minister Maher.

We also, of course, talked about the situation in the Middle East. Both nations are concerned about it. We reaffirmed our commitment to the Mitchell Plan and the need for everybody to do everything in their power to get the level of violence down so that we can begin the Mitchell plan in the way it is designed to take us through a cooling- off period, through confidence-building measures, and then back to negotiations. And we both committed ourselves to doing everything we can to get us closer to that day when the Mitchell Plan can begin its implementation and execution.

So, a great pleasure to welcome Dr. Baz. And he will be within the Department for some more time, talking to some of my colleagues.

Dr. Baz, a pleasure, sir.

DR. EL-BAZ: Thank you, sir.

I was very pleased to have met with the Secretary, who is held in great respect and esteem in our part of the world, especially in Egypt. President Mubarak and all of us think very highly of him. And we believe that we can work out certain arrangements for the purpose of enabling us to get the parties started with implementation on the Mitchell recommendations.

This is a commitment on our part. We would like to do all that we can to help the parties achieve that. And we have the assurance that the US is going to be active, to be engaged. They will not be just watching out, but they will be our partner, as they have been for a long period of time.

We are very pleased by that, and we expect to work hand in hand very closely and conduct a concerted effort for the purpose of attaining our common and joint objectives.

Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Dr. El-Baz, what was the reaction to your suggestion that you want observers in the region?

DR. EL-BAZ: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: At the mic --

QUESTION: Are you going to discuss that now?

DR. EL-BAZ: We cannot get into details now because we are waiting for our American partners, in order to study whatever ideas we have and we study whatever ideas they have. But the important thing is that the gap is not that big between our thinking and their thinking, and we hope that through this we can hope for some developments in the region, on the ground.

We need a drastic change of the present situation. We need peace and quiet in the region. And unless this is done, the interests of all parties are going to be damaged and hurt.

QUESTION: On your certain arrangements, could you elaborate on the certain arrangements which you decided should be taken, should be made?

DR. EL-BAZ: As I said, this is being discussed by the Administration and we cannot get into that before we give them the courtesy of having enough time to study whatever we said. And we are going also to study the ideas they gave us, and within the coming few days -- two days, we will be able to speak with more authority.

QUESTION: Dr. El-Baz, could you say whether you agree with the United States that the UN is not the proper vehicle to impose monitors in the region at this point, considering the vote is probably going to be coming up soon on Monday?

DR. EL-BAZ: We are not thinking of getting the UN to impose anything. Because, prior to that, we are thinking of having the joint efforts and coordinated concerted efforts by the parties immediately concerned and mutually accepted by both parties, because they are the ones who can achieve the initial steps that could lead to a real change on the ground. This is our main commitment.

First, because we need a change on the ground. The situation there is unacceptable. The continuation of the present situation is untenable. We cannot live with it; the US cannot live with it. The two parties immediately concerned cannot live with this, either.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

DR. EL-BAZ: (In Arabic.)

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

DR. EL-BAZ: (In Arabic.)

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

DR. EL-BAZ: (In Arabic.)

ENDS


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