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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release July 11, 2000
PRESS BRIEFING BY
Thurmont Elementary School
4:25 P.M. EDT
MR. LOCKHART: Welcome to our first session here in Thurmont.
Let me just walk you through some of the logistics of what's already
happened. And then I'll give you what little I know about what's going to
happen the rest of the day, and I'll take your questions.
I think as most of you know, Chairman Arafat arrived about 1:00
a.m. to Camp David. He was greeted by the Secretary of State. Prime
Minister Barak arrived about 6:00 a.m., again was greeted by Secretary of
State. The President came in about 11:25-11:30 a.m., had about, I'd say, a
20-25 minute meeting with his team to get ready for today's events.
And then about noon the President and Chairman Arafat began their
first bilateral of these discussions. The bilateral took place on the back
porch of the President's cabin up here at Camp David, and it lasted a
little bit more than a half an hour. After about a 10 or 15-minute session
again with the President's team, Prime Minister Barak came to the same
location. They sat in the same place, on the back balcony porch area of
the President's cabin. That meeting lasted somewhere between, I'd say, 45
and 50 minutes.
Again, after another break, the President went out to the front
area of the Aspen Cottage, his cottage, was joined there by Chairman
Arafat. About 30 seconds later, Prime Minister Barak came from his cabin.
They stood, talked for a few moments, and then started the walk over to the
Laurel Cottage, where I think the pool saw -- I think the pictures have
been transmitted around the world at this point.
On the way over, the President gave them a short history of Camp
David, including its naming and how it started, talked a little bit about
the great weather up here, how it's anywhere from 8 to 10 degrees cooler
than in Washington, D.C., and extolled the great virtues of the sports
facility, including the bowling alley.
The delegations went into the Laurel Cabin. After a brief tour
that the President gave to Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak, the
plenary session opened at about 2:30 p.m. It lasted about 30 minutes.
Let me stop there and give you a little bit on that session. I
think as the pictures we will release will indicate, they sat at a long,
rectangular table, with 21 delegates sitting at the table, another 13 in
chairs behind -- that was the President plus eight; Chairman Arafat and
Prime Minister Barak plus five.
As far as where we are now, the meetings began today in a good
atmosphere. The discussions have been serious. I think both sides, in
their discussions with the President and in the plenary session, indicated
that they fully understand the difficulties that face them over the next
days, but also the opportunity that's before them. They all, in their
discussions and in their statements in the session, indicated the
importance of getting to work and getting to work quickly, because there
are very difficult issues at hand.
The plenary session also discussed and reached an agreement that
from the beginning of the session, the two sides and the United States side
would impose a news blackout on the substance of the discussions from this
point forward. I think both sides agreed that any substantive
announcements would be made by a representative of the United States
government and the United States government would, unless explicitly agreed
by all sides, keep the discussions and the substance of the discussions in
the Camp David meeting areas and not air them out in the public.
I think both sides agreed that this was in the best interest of
reaching an agreement and in the best interest of avoiding spending and
wasting a lot of time discussing various newspaper accounts each day of
what's going on in the session.
We will make available to you, I think shortly after this
briefing, the delegation list. We will also be making copies of a Camp
David history, which gives you some background on Camp David. The one
piece that I will point out is that the President obviously is staying in
his cottage. The Prime Minister is staying in the Dogwood Cottage. And
Chairman Arafat is staying in Birch, the Birch Cottage. And my
understanding is that is a reverse of 1978, when Sadat stayed in Dogwood,
Begin stayed in Birch.
Q Joe, you began by saying that -- in the course of the
description of what happened today, you talked about, they understood this,
they understood this -- you listed about three or four things. You didn't
make any mention as to whether they indicated they understood his appeal
for compromise. Did they indicate that they understood that as well?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think the President has made that quite
clear. The President has made that quite clear in his public and his
private statements, and they're both here. So it's certainly our view that
both sides will need to compromise to reach an agreement.
Q I know your view; that's not the question. The President,
especially today in a lengthy statement, in several ways and considerable
eloquence, talked about the need for the two sides to compromise. And you
said they understood how important the issues are, they understood this,
they understood the weather is good, and everything. Did they express any
response? Did they say, we understand; we should and will try to
compromise our differences?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to get into making judgments of what
they think or believe, or get into any more detail than I did in what they
said in the discussions.
Q Any progress at all to report this early?
MR. LOCKHART: Let me use that as a way of saying that I have no
intention over the next few days to provide progress reports. The issues
-- the delegations know each other well; they know the issues well. I
think it's very clear the difficulty of these issues as they move forward.
And I think the best thing to do is to allow the parties to try to work
through these differences, narrow those differences, and not provide an
update each and every time I come up here on where they are.
Q There was a little "you first; no, you first," going in the
doorway. Are these guys just bending over backwards to help each other, or
they can't quite cross the threshold --
MR. LOCKHART: I think that they obviously greeted each other a
few moments before in a very friendly way. They had a very pleasant
discussion as they walked through the woods down to the cabin. And those
who have watched Chairman Arafat in particular will note that he always
tries to allow those that he's with to enter a building before him, and
that's what happened.
Q Was the conversation in English, this pleasant conversation?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q On that point, on the entrance, how long did this little
Laurel and Hardy routine go on? Did it end pretty quickly and did they get
down to the serious meat of it, or was there more kind of joking --
MR. LOCKHART: Without attempting the cinema allusion there, it
lasted probably five to 10 seconds.
Q To what extent did they discuss the public reactions to
calling the summit, in general, particularly the no confidence vote in
Israel? Did they discuss the situation back home for Barak?
MR. LOCKHART: The plenary session was mostly an opportunity for
the President to lay out what was at stake and how we would move forward.
As far as the discussions in the bilateral, I'm not aware to what extent
that was discussed.
Q Has Israel indicated to the U.S. an intention to suspend the
MR. LOCKHART: I know that that has been an issue that's been of
concern to the United States government. It's been raised at a number of
levels, including between the President and the Prime Minister. They have
discussed it often, but I'm not aware that the government of Israel has
made a final decision.
Q What is the significance of reversing where each President
is staying in each room from Camp David in 1978? Because you pointed this
out, and there must be reason for doing that.
MR. LOCKHART: I think they're both good cabins and they wanted
to make sure that everyone had a chance to appreciate all of the fine
elements of each cabin.
Q -- bilateral meetings with Barak and Arafat?
MR. LOCKHART: I can't tell you, looking into the future, how
this will unfold. As far as the rest of this evening, my understanding is
that about 5:00 p.m. this evening, the President will have another
bilateral with Prime Minister Barak, which will be followed by a bilateral
with Chairman Arafat. From that point on, I'm not sure, and I think I've
given you a fairly lengthy rundown with times, events.
I don't expect that that service will be continued, because I
think how they meet, when they meet, who they meet with gets very much to
the substance, and that's something that we won't be talking about.
Q Will they be visiting anywhere locally?
MR. LOCKHART: If they decide that they want to go out and visit
any of the local areas, we'll let you know.
Q Have the two sides been asked to turn over their cell
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know that anyone's been asked to turn over
his cell phone. I can tell you from my own experience they don't work in
the areas where we are working. (Laughter.) So it's kind of a moot point.
Q -- negotiator?
MR. LOCKHART: There may be some discussions on non-core issues.
I'll let you know when and if that gets put together.
Q Joe, if there's a breakthrough, is there any way that the
President would consider not going on July 19th to Okinawa, Japan?
MR. LOCKHART: I think even in a news blackout, hypotheticals are
best left alone.
Q -- recognize the protests of Jewish settlers here before the
President, and did they comment on them?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not sure that they were aware of those. I
only became aware of them when I drove in the parking lot.
Q Is he planning to stay tonight up here?
MR. LOCKHART: The President will stay -- the President has
indicated and indicated to the parties that he will stay, and
devote as much time as is constructive to this process. He will be staying
tonight. The only events that I know of that are fixed on his calendar
that he needs to attend are on Thursday. He's got a longstanding speech at
the NAACP in Baltimore, and then a Congressional Medal of Honor, I believe,
event in the Capitol. But other than that, I expect that we'll be spending
the majority of our time here.
Q In what way has Mrs. Albright been engaged?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, she obviously participated in the meetings
with the President before he went into his bilaterals. During his
bilaterals, she met with various members of each delegation in an informal
way, and she'll continue it. I think the Secretary of State will be here
from now until these discussions are finished; she's committed to staying
here to see that through. As far as anything beyond that, I don't have
anything at this point.
Q Will Arafat and Barak meet alone with each other, or will
the President always be with them when they are together?
MR. LOCKHART: There are many possibilities for meetings. I'm
not going to try to predict.
Q In those meetings, are there any proposals, papers -- are
there any proposals from the American side?
MR. LOCKHART: If there were any proposals or papers or ideas,
that would go to substance, and I wouldn't comment on it.
Q Do you think President Clinton will be able to apply
pressure on both sides, knowing that the difficulties that Prime Minister
Barak has been facing with the coalition of his government --
MR. LOCKHART: I think the President has made very clear in his
public statements he understands the difficulties that face the two
parties. As he said this morning, if this was easy, it would have been
done a long time ago. But I think he also understands the unique
opportunity that's before us, and we'll do whatever we can to make sure
that we can reach an agreement.
Q Did you think that the two leaders are under pressure --
Barak with his Cabinet crisis, and Arafat with refugees, hundreds have
taken to the streets on the West Bank -- do you feel that there is a sense
of pressure on the two leaders?
MR. LOCKHART: I felt that they were both here in a serious
attempt to make peace, and beyond that, I'm not going to comment.
Q -- below the presidential level, you said the Secretary has
met, what, with the two principals, with members of the two delegations?
MR. LOCKHART: There were a lot of, I'd say, in the time that the
President held his two bilaterals -- it's like an area in the woods that
there are a number of cabins nearby, and there were a lot of, I guess in
diplomatic circles you'd call pull-asides, conversations with people who
were talking about how we're going to move forward this week. I don't know
that any of them can be described as really formal. But certainly there
were a number of discussions, both from Ambassador Ross, the National
Security Advisor Berger, Secretary of State Albright, and others.
Q -- reports that Israel has decided to cancel the sale of the
advanced warning system to China. Has there been any indication of that?
MR. LOCKHART: I got a question about that earlier, and I'll
stick with that answer.
Q Will the President be here at all on Thursday, or is he
going to spend the entire day doing other things?
MR. LOCKHART: What I do know about Thursday, he will give the
speech, he will be on the Hill. I certainly wouldn't rule out the
probability of the President spending some time on Thursday here.
Q Did the President call any congressional leaders before he
came up here this morning, any sort of last touching base with --
MR. LOCKHART: The President had a series of telephone
discussions with congressional leaders. I think this and some other issues
were on the table this morning before he left.
Q Joe, has he spoken to President Carter in terms of getting
any wisdom from him in terms of how --
MR. LOCKHART: I don't think he's spoken to him in the last few
days. Let me make a couple of points on that. He's certainly had the
opportunity and the privilege to talk to President Carter over the last
seven or eight years both about the Camp David experience and the overall
Middle East peace, as well as a number of other subjects around the world.
The second is, the President has been well immersed in this process now for
seven and a half years. I think he's spent a lot of time getting ready on
the particular issues here that are unique to these discussions. And I
wouldn't rule out that at some point in time he might want to touch base
not only with people who have expertise here in the United States, but
leaders around the world.
Q -- how he prepared -- was there anything in particular he
read, or anyone that he spoke to that --
MR. LOCKHART: He had two long meetings with his team, one on
Friday for about three hours, one on Sunday evening for about two hours.
He had a large reading list that, based on some discussions we've had, he
got all the way through. I know that there was one book in particular, I
think by Bill Quandt, about the Camp David peace process. I'm not sure if
he got through the whole thing, I think someone may have pulled some
sections of that. But there were a number of articles, a number of
academic pieces that he had a chance to get to, as well as having a chance
to spend many hours with his team.
Q In Shepherdstown, there was an American working document.
Is there any plan that there will be such a thing also at this summit?
MR. LOCKHART: I think I'll try to make clear -- clearer -- that
anything that has to do with the substance of the discussion I'm not going
to comment on.
Q Do you anticipate any more Middle East leaders showing up at
Camp David, too, during the duration?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of any plans for that, but I
certainly don't want to rule out the possibility. I think anything is
Q You said that the President -- told both parties what was
going to happen, he set the agenda. Would it be fair to say that the
United States in general set the agenda for this meeting?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I don't want to overplay the significance of
that. I think both parties and the United States understands what the
issues are. The President talked --
Q But how to proceed, which one comes first --
MR. LOCKHART: I think that these are discussions that will take
place as the days move on, starting later on this afternoon. But I
certainly view the sequencing of issues to the extent that they deal with
one first or one next, or whatever, is part of the substance. So I'm just
not going to get into that.
Q Have you received any bill from either side with any price
tag for reaching a deal?
MR. LOCKHART: Do I have to stand up here after Barry's left?
Q Have you received any bill from either side with a price for
reaching a deal? I mean, support, financial support.
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know that that sort of discussion is
appropriate at this point. I certainly know that the U.S. in the past has
sought to help in a number of ways. That is one of the ways, but I think
we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Q During Shepherdstown, when the President was meeting with
either of the two parties, the Secretary of State was meeting with either
Barak or -- this time you mentioned that she was meeting members of the
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, I don't know her exact schedule. I
certainly know that she will have the opportunity in this day and the next
day to meet both with Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat. I wouldn't
read much significant into the logistics there.
Q -- the bilats this afternoon, are there any plans for a
group dinner at all tonight perhaps?
MR. LOCKHART: I think we're going to take this one step at a
time. There are no firm plans beyond what I've told you. And I think, for
all of your planning purposes, what I'll try to do is give you late tonight
some idea that they've broken for the night. There may be more details;
there may not. And I may hold until tomorrow morning, some sort of more
formal readout of what happened this evening. For those of you who are
going to hang around for nothing, that's fine. But those who have better
things to do, you should go do them.
Q Joe, when will we see you again?
MR. LOCKHART: You will see me again here, hopefully, sometime
tomorrow morning. I'll try to come by mid-morning. We'll get you a time,
Q Joe, do you have a list of the people who were in the
MR. LOCKHART: We'll get you a delegation list, and I think
almost everybody in the delegations were in the meeting. There were, I
think, 34 or 35 people in the room.
Q -- Palestinian team?
MR. LOCKHART: The which one?
Q The second person. I mean, under Arafat, who is the second
MR. LOCKHART: I'll give you the delegation list. I'm not going
to rank members. I certainly hope no one would rank who is most important
in our delegation.
Q Is he at all flexible on Okinawa, or is that a deadline for
MR. LOCKHART: I think the President intends to travel to Okinawa
to do the G-8. It's something he's done for the last seven years, and
that's what the schedule is.
Q How are the three men getting along? Have there been any
harsh words? Has it all been cordial?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, they have spent now probably 30 or 40
minutes together. I think I described for you faithfully that they greeted
each other in a very friendly way. They walked down through the woods, had
a very pleasant conversation led by the President, mostly about the history
of Camp David. And then they had the plenary and have now gone their
separate ways. So I think the atmosphere is good and the mood is serious.
Q No harsh or -- words?
MR. LOCKHART: Let me take one more and then we'll go.
Q Does the President plan to propose his own ideas on how the
two sides should proceed?
MR. LOCKHART: I think what the President does in the context of
these discussions is something that will be done within the discussions,
and I won't be commenting on them. Thank you.
END 4:45 P.M. EDT
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