|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat
Press remarks following their meeting in Ramallah
Ramallah, West Bank, June 6, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (in Arabic): Madame Secretary, first of all I would like to welcome you here. It's always great to have you, Madame Secretary, here. I would like to thank you for coming and I would also like to thank President Clinton for sending you here. You come here with strong faith in the peace process and belief in the peace process, and we thank you very much for that, and we thank the President. We believe that the efforts that both the President and you are exerting are very important to move the peace process forward. Once again, welcome, thank you for coming here, and please convey our best wishes to the President.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. The Chairman and I have just completed a very good meeting in which we focused on how to accelerate progress toward reaching an agreement on permanent status issues. The Chairman reaffirmed his personal commitment to this objective, and pledged to do his part in bringing it about. I know that the last several weeks have been difficult for Palestinians, and I know there are those who say that the negotiations cannot succeed in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations. Those voices belong to the past - indeed they seek to perpetuate the fears of the past, rather than building on the hope and promise of the future. We now have before us a historic opportunity to reach a comprehensive agreement on all permanent status issues, and to end the Israeli and Palestinian conflict once and for all, and to create a better future for both peoples. Negotiations that take into account the needs and requirements of both sides provide the pathway forward. There is no other way. And working closely with Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak, President Clinton and I will continue to do everything that we can to help the Palestinians and Israelis reach this goal.
I am very pleased to say that Chairman Arafat has accepted President Clinton's invitation to come to Washington Wednesday, June 14, and that negotiations among the negotiators will begin there in the region at the beginning of next week. So the process is moving forward, and I'm very pleased that the Chairman is going to be able to come and join us at the White House. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you spoke about the historical chance yesterday after your meeting with Barak, and you assured us today after your meeting with President Arafat. Do you think an agreement about the framework and the permanent agreement is very soon, and when? And is there any specific American guarantees for the Palestinians about that?
(in Arabic) Mr. Chairman, the Israeli side through Prime Minister Barak yesterday asked the Palestinians to show more flexibility and they say that President Arafat should show more flexibility. The question is, to what extent are you prepared to show a Palestinian flexibility?
CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (in Arabic): Our position has been very clear since the beginning and, we have demonstrated over and over our many flexibilities, especially that we are going through a process that started a long time ago with my previous partner, late Prime Minister Rabin, when we together signed the peace of the brave agreement. And, also, we have signed a number of other agreements with the Israeli sides where we show flexibility and, of course, the main agreement was the one under the sponsorship of President Clinton at the White House, that started the whole process. This is a process that is seen as very important and we are continuing to go through the process. Now, on the Palestinian side we are not asking except for one thing. What we are asking for is the faithful and precise implementation of the previous agreement that we have reached and signed together. And the last agreement was the Sharm-el-Sheikh agreement in Egypt, an agreement where Secretary Albright personally was there during the signing ceremony, as well as President Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan, in addition to two layers of assurances from the U.S. side and the European side that this agreement will be implemented.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: From my perspective, let me say that, as I said yesterday and as I am making clear today, there really is an historic opportunity now to move the process forward. I am very pleased that the Chairman is going to be able to be in Washington along with the negotiators, something that Prime Minister Barak has agreed also to have the negotiators there. We are taking this, if it is possible to say it this way, one step at a time as rapidly as possible and we want to make sure that as these agreements are negotiated that they really do deal with the aspirations and hopes of both people and that the United States will be there to be supportive of the agreements as they are concluded. We are in a very important time.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We are doing this one step at a time, I think that obviously when this is over there will be a great deal of support from the people of the United States.
QUESTION: Mr. Chairman, is the time ripe for a three-way summit? And, at the beginning of Mr. Barak's time, you spoke of him as your partner, and you spoke in praise of him. I don't think I heard that today. Do you think Mr. Barak is the sort of partner you thought he was in the first place?
CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (in Arabic): I am not prepared to answer this question because I believe this question tends to destroy the Palestinian-Israeli relationship. Therefore, I will not answer that question.
QUESTION: What about the summit?
CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (in Arabic): I will decline to answer your question. Maybe someone else will answer.
QUESTION (in Arabic): Two questions. The first question is to Chairman Arafat. Were there any new U.S. ideas presented to you? And a question to Secretary Albright? Secretary Albright, you mentioned yesterday that neither side will get a hundred percent of what they want. Do you believe, Madame Secretary, that 242 and 338, which is the basis for the Palestinians, represents the hundred percent that should be achieved?
CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (in Arabic): There are continuous U.S. efforts in order to move the peace process forward. What we are asking for is the implementation of all the resolutions that represent international legitimacy. These resolutions were also submitted and were part and parcel of all the agreements that were signed between the Palestinians and the Israelis, from Oslo all the way to Sharm-el-Sheikh. All these agreements stated that U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, and we saw those implemented on both the Egyptian and the Jordanian previous agreements and also 425 that we saw recently being implemented regarding south Lebanon.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We have said all along that the Israeli-Palestinian track discussions are at the core of the comprehensive peace. Obviously these are very complex negotiations that require two peoples to live basically in the same general territory, working with each other and having really complementary relations. And I think as we go through all these negotiations, it is evident that it is impossible for both sides to get a hundred percent of what each side wants. And that is what the negotiations are about. But they will not succeed unless both are satisfied with what they have gotten.
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