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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on CNN-TV
Jerusalem, September 12, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you say you were encouraged by what you heard from Yasser Arafat yesterday, as regards his willingness to work on security. But at the same time, it seems as if the Israelis fairly well rebuffed you when you talked about the issue of settlements. What I'm wondering is, do you think -- given that kind of at least public climate -- that there can be any progress at this moment?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, as we've said, there has in fact been a crisis of confidence here, and it's very evident in every discussion that I have had. Steve, we've managed, I think, to come out of these meetings with some very small steps. I had hoped for larger ones. But there are some small steps which are that week-after-next, Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu have agreed to send their senior advisors to Washington, to have discussions with us about how to proceed. And then the week after that, I will host Foreign Minister Levy, and Abu Mazen, the Palestinian Deputy in New York, to see what more we can do. But I do think that there's a great deal to be done here, and I'm obviously not satisfied. Big steps are needed, and we were only able to take small ones.
QUESTION: Again, in that kind of climate. As we understood it yesterday, the United States is going to put itself in the role of the party that makes the judgment about how Arafat does comply with his presumed pledges on security. Do you have any sense that the Israelis are willing to accept a U.S. judgment at this point?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we're not going to give report cards. What we're going to do, all of us together, is watch to see what concrete steps are really taken. What I think we accomplished, was that Chairman Arafat is very much more aware, I think, of the importance of dealing with the terrorist threat, and living up to what he promised President Clinton. There is a process in place. We'll have to see concrete results. That's what we'll be watching for.
QUESTION: Do you feel the need to be back in the region any time soon, specifically wondering if you have any plans to come back to Israel on this trip, or within the nearest future.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Steve, I've decided that when big decisions are made here by the leaders, then I will be back. But I'm not coming here, in order to tread water.
QUESTION: There's not anything hanging fire that you see at this point that would bring you back during this trip.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Not at this point, no.
QUESTION: Could we talk a bit about the Syrian track, because this afternoon you're going off to Damascus. I'm wondering what's working there, if anything?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that clearly, that that track has been in suspended animation and a Secretary of State has not been there in over a year. I think it's worth trying to see whether there is any action that can happen there. But again, I go there as a realist. We'll see what comes out of it.
QUESTION: Did you have a sense from the Israelis that they would like to get something re-started with the Syrians?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that the Israelis are trying to deal, I think, in a very positive way with a variety of their security problems. And I think that from their perspective they want to see the tracks activated, and so do we. So, we're going to try to see if there's anything we can do.
QUESTION: You said, coming into this journey, that there are two reasons you would come here, any Secretary of State. One is to be on hand for a happy notice of progress, another is to put things back together if there is, as you said, a crisis of confidence. Do you have any sense as you look back -- not to second guess yourself -- but as you look back -- that perhaps it might have been better to get into this region personally, on the ground, a bit sooner?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No. I think that I've done the right thing. I think that if you take what I've said as a formula, that there was no point in coming if the leaders were not prepared to make some of the hard decisions, so there was not the good reason to come for. And the truth is that the deterioration has come recently, and I came as soon as I could, as the situation deteriorated. I am sorry that we weren't able to take some greater steps here. I am very honest in terms of sorting out what has been accomplished. They are small steps. And as I've said, big steps are needed. And we are still waiting for the leaders here, to make the hard decisions. The U.S. is always there prepared to help. But it's really up to the leaders themselves to make the tough decisions.
QUESTION: Secretary Albright, thank you very much.

[End of Document]

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