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Press Briefing by Joe Lockhart From Camp David (7/12/00 - afternoon)

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The Briefing Room
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                          (Camp David, Maryland)
For Immediate Release                  July 12, 2000

                             PRESS BRIEFING BY
                               JOE LOCKHART

                        Thurmont Elementary School
                                    Thurmont, Maryland

6:00 P.M. EDT

          MR. LOCKHART:  Good evening, everybody.  Let me bring you up to
date and start by saying I don't have all that much different from the
earlier session.  But as far as the President's time, he, as I said
earlier, met with Prime Minister Barak, met with his team, took a break,
met with the team again.  And as I was leaving, he was beginning a
bilateral discussion with Chairman Arafat.  They were planning to do this
while taking a walk around the Camp David grounds.

          As far as the rest of the evening, I think all sides agreed that
the dinner last night was useful, to bring the delegations together and all
dine together.  So I expect them to do the same again this evening.

          I think from the pictures we've released you will deduce that the
Secretary of State and Ambassador Ross met with the delegations this
afternoon.  Other than that, there have been a series of both informal in
formal sessions among different people, but I'm not going to get into the
details.  But suffice it to say that it's been a busy day between all the
parties, and there's been real engagement today dealing with the
substantive issues that define what the parties need to agree on in order
to reach an overall agreement.

          As far as the President's plans this evening, I talked to him
just as I was walking out -- he indicated that he wanted to wait until a
little later tonight to see how the evening went before he made a decision
about returning tonight or going tomorrow, going early tomorrow morning.
So we'll let you know when we know.

          Q    You said today, earlier, that on the Falcon decision that
Israel had taken into consideration U.S. security concerns in the decision.
I'm just curious, is the White House satisfied that the sale has been
suspended indefinitely, or had you hoped that it would be cancelled

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think we're satisfied with the clear statement
that Israel takes into account our security concerns, both for U.S.
security and security in the region.  And as I said earlier today, I don't
expect those security concerns to change.

          Q    Was there any disappointment, though, that it wasn't
cancelled altogether?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think the White House, as I said earlier today,
is quite pleased with the decision.

          Q    -- talks going on in Emmitsburg?

          MR. LOCKHART:  No, there are no discussions going on.  There may
be talks at some point during the week on non-core issues in Emmitsburg;
we'll let you know if those begin.

          Q    Did your hear about any plans of Yasir Arafat meeting with
other Palestinians -- did he ask for permission?  Do you know anything
about that now?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I have checked that because I've heard from a
variety of reporters that question.  No request has been made.  I haven't
heard anything, nor has anyone on our delegation heard a request for a
meeting between Chairman Arafat and some of his leaders who are not here at
Camp David.

          Q    Is it still the U.S. position, though, that no one other
than the negotiators that are there now should be coming and going, with
the exception of people like you --

          MR. LOCKHART:  That's still our position.

          Q    -- receives such a request which would require additional
people from any side to come in and then leave, you would be opposed to it?

          MR. LOCKHART:  That's a hypothetical question, since there has
been no such request, except for the questions from people like you.

          Q    Is there limit --

          MR. LOCKHART:  I don't know what the limit is, but we agreed in
advance on the size of the parties, and those people are at Camp David now.
And I expect those people to stay there through the talks.

          Q    Because there's some notion that, for instance, Dan Merigot
would be joining the Israeli delegation.  Can he replace someone or --

          MR. LOCKHART:  From a logistical point of view, anyone who would
want to come and join the talks would have to get on the list of people
coming and going through the security, and no request has been made.  And
we can speculate --

          Q    Would you oppose it?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I'm not going to stand here and speculate on
things that haven't happened.

          Q    Joe, how would you respond if Mr. Arafat would like to go
out and meet some Palestinians outside Camp David?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Again, we can run around on something that hasn't
happened, and decide the deeper meaning of what-ifs all night long, but I
don't find that a useful use of my time or yours.

          Q    -- when you -- you were asked about progress, and you don't
claim progress -- do you consider such a statement a matter of substance?
In other words, are you free to say whether there's progress or not, or
does that go to the blackout on substantive discussion?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I believe that any qualitative statement about how
the talks are going goes to the substance, and we have made the judgment,
which I'm sure you all debate, that that is something we will not engage

          Q    Joe, when you don't say there's progress, you would prefer
not be read -- when you don't make such a statement, it isn't that there's
a lack of progress, is there?  (Laughter.)  When everybody looks for that
key word, and if it doesn't --

          MR. LOCKHART:  Where's Mr. Boucher?  Does he get that at the
State Department every day?  (Laughter.)

          Q    If it doesn't fall from your lips, I wonder what's to be

          MR. LOCKHART:  Let me say that nothing should be read one way and
the other, but I'm not sure I have a lot of confidence that nothing will be
read one way or the other.

          Q    A Cabinet minister was quoted as saying that there is a land
swap on the table.  Would you elaborate?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Listen, I'm certain that there will be a lot of
reports over the next few days.  Without respect to that one, some of them
may turn out to be true, many of them will turn out to be false.  But that
goes to the substance of the discussions that are going on, and I won't
have any comment on that.

          Q    I just want to clarify.  You were saying that they were --
there's been real engagement today on the serious issues that define where
we are.  Do you mean that we've been talking about sort of definitional
terms of the outlines of our positions, and haven't yet gotten to
negotiating actual back-and-forth of do you agree to this and do I agree to
that?  Or do you mean --

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think what I meant to say was the work we
expected to get done up here, the actual negotiating to try to reach a
peace agreement, has certainly begun, and it's been a very busy day on that

          Q    This may be a wrong impression, but it seems like the amount
of actual time Clinton is spending with these leaders outside of dinner is
relatively short, given the entire length of stay.  I wonder if you could
comment on that.  And is Clinton's role that of carrying to Barak something
that Arafat has said, or is it not that sort of thing --

          MR. LOCKHART:  The President's role is trying to serve as an
honest broker here and to do whatever he believes is constructive towards
reaching an agreement.  As far as the amount of time he's spent with them,
the last two days I think he spent a large amount of time with the two
leaders.  Yesterday he shuttled back and forth quite a bit.  In addition to
having two sessions where both leaders were there, I expect that by the end
of today, while it may not measure up in minute to minute, they will
certainly have spent a good bit of time together.

          Q    -- dinner last night was useful.  I mean, what led them to
believe that that's a useful thing?

          MR. LOCKHART:  It's like if you go to a restaurant and you like
it and you think you want to go back again, and you go back -- it serves
some function -- that was more of a -- what did you call it before -- an
existential statement.  (Laughter.)

          I think the atmosphere was -- and as I was getting at this
morning -- the informal atmosphere of people being able to meet both in
formal and informal settings, the sides believe is a useful thing.  The
dinner is something that I believe the delegations wanted to repeat tonight
for that reason.

          Q    Does the U.S. believe that anything has been accomplished so
far in these two days?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think that the fact that we've spent two days
working at the hard issues means something to us, but I'm not going to get
into a description of what that means.

          Q    Any chance that Vice President Gore will join the talks?

          MR. LOCKHART:  No.

          Q    Other than the meal time, have President Arafat and the
Prime Minister met with each other?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Have they met directly?  Not that I'm aware of --
unless it was an informal, chance meeting.

          Q    Have the discussions concentrated on the whole issues
together, or one by one -- Jerusalem, refugees, et cetera?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I'd say it's a combination.

          Q    Assuming reaching progress and having promises made from
both sides, how do you know, how does the U.S. know that both sides are
going to work on their promises back in their own lands?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think both sides have come here in good faith,
and if they reach an agreement that is in the best interest of both sides,
which is the only basis on which an agreement can be reached, it's
certainly our view that they will work to implement it.

          Q    But commitments were not enough before, they were not enough
to go on with achieving the deal.

          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, we certainly believe that both sides are
here in good faith, and that's how we're operating.

          Q    Joe, what are the mechanisms of tomorrow's discussions in
the absence of President Clinton when he goes to Washington?

          MR. LOCKHART:  The U.S. team will be led by the Secretary of
State.  And I think it's worth noting that there have been a number of
discussions that have gone on today that do not involve the President.  I
think the President serves a very important role in bringing the leaders
together, and when he talks beyond the leaders, to the negotiators.

          But the team -- Ambassador Ross, Mr. Berger, Secretary of State
Albright -- are very involved, both with the President in some meetings,
but spend most of their days engaged in diplomatic discussions with other
members of the Palestinian-Israeli delegation.

          Q    Will Secretary Albright play the same role as the President
in terms of being an honest broker, or will --

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think you can expect that whether it's the
President there or the Secretary of State, they will play the same --

          Q    -- will she have the same intimate role as the President

          MR. LOCKHART:  Being unable to predict what's going to happen for
the rest of today, I don't want to really try to do tomorrow.

          Q    Joe, has the President presented any sort of bridging
proposal and said, here's what we think should be done, or is he just
trying to facilitate an epiphany of sorts?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think any discussion of anything that's going on
in the talks would go to substance, so I'll leave that alone.

          Q    Joe, has any senior White House aide spoken with
congressional leaders about a package or working with Congress?  I know
you've said that you would in time, but in the last couple of days --

          MR. LOCKHART:  The President talked to senior congressional
leaders Tuesday morning before we took off.  So our consultation with
Congress has been quite steady throughout this whole process.  And to the
extent that U.S. support will be provided in conjunction with the peace
agreement, we'll continue to consult with Congress.

          Q    -- another Palestinian leader, politician would be more
effective for agreement, for stronger agreement -- if an agreement would be
reached, would it be not more effective to have it confirmed by more
Palestinian leaders?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I'm certain that it would, but if this is a
back-door way to get me to comment on the rumor that's been going around
here all afternoon, I'm not going to do it.

          Q    You said earlier that both two sides have talked about
issues that means something to you.  Could you explain those issues --

          MR. LOCKHART:  No, because I think the answer indicated that I
wasn't going to explain it, I was just going to leave it there.

          Q    The President said he can draw the map of the Left Bank in
his dreams.  Can you tell us the border of that map?  (Laughter.)

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think I can say with no sense that you will not
fully believe me, that I do not have access to the President's dreams.

          Q    The supplemental appropriations bill, has it been signed,
anything to say --

          MR. LOCKHART:  I expect the President to sign that bill tomorrow
while he's in Washington.

          Q    -- the operations bill that's going through the House right
now, is the President inclined to sign it --

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think we probably have a statement of
administration policy on that which I do not have in front of me, but I'll
be glad to make available to you.

          Q    -- work for the next few days, or are you playing it by ear?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think we have a sense of what we want to do over
the next few days, with a degree of flexibility that will allow us to
accommodate any changes that happen.

          Q    -- Prime Minister Barak talked to supporters today in Tel
Aviv.  First, did he ask the other principals if it would be in the rules
of the news blackout, and secondly, will President Arafat be allowed to do
the same?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I'm not aware of -- it's the first I know of this,
so I don't know.  I don't think there's -- my understanding of the ground
rules, I don't know if that would violate anything that the leaders
discussed.  And it's certainly my guess that if Chairman Arafat wanted to
do that, he would be able to do that.

          Q    -- input and pressure, besides being an honest broker?

          MR. LOCKHART:  No.

          Q    -- with no Americans present?

          MR. LOCKHART:  There have been discussions between negotiators on
the Israeli and Palestinian team that did not involve any of the Americans,
and those will continue over the next few days.

          Q    Are those formal discussions, or do they happen to be
discussions --

          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, I think they're not formal in the sense that
there's a schedule and there's a meeting, but they're certainly part of the

          Q    If you decline the honest broker label, Mr. Djerijian was
quoted on the television as saying that the United States is -- the
facilitator.  Can you put a term on the role of the Americans now?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think that's quite an apt term to use, as
facilitator, as I think when there are two parties who are trying to reach
an agreement on very difficult issues, issues that have separated them for
50 years, it is useful to have someone that both sides trust to facilitate
the process, to try to act as a broker both in process and substance, to
reach an agreement.

          Q    -- facilitate, but no pressure --

          MR. LOCKHART:  I like facilitator, I like broker.  I don't like

          Q    You said earlier, you used the word shuttle back and forth.
But your descriptions have been very much a meeting with one, a meeting
with the other, and then a three-way.  And that's been a pattern both days.
Are you saying that there's been sort of rapid-fire back and forth going

          MR. LOCKHART:  No.  My description was to describe what they've
done, and I think when you -- you can argue over the meaning of the word
shuttle, but when you go back and forth and meet with people two and three
times a day --

          Q    You're willing to say facilitator; you're willing to say
honest broker.  But something about presenting bridging proposals brings
you up short, as if that gets to substance.  Nobody asked what the bridging
proposals are.  Are they -- is the President, if you can't say whether he's
done it -- I mean, the U.S. has said all along that on occasion it will, if
it finds it useful, make the bridging proposals.  Can't you say that about
this summit?

          MR. LOCKHART:  On this summit, during this time, I believe that
anything that goes to the negotiating, on how it's being done -- that kind
of question goes to the substance, and I'm just not going to get drawn into

          Q    -- Palestinian State in September, one of the items being

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think all of the core issues that are before us
that are well-known are being discussed.

          Q    Is that --

          MR. LOCKHART:  That's certainly the status.  It certainly -- the
issues, as they're divided, certainly take account of all the issues that
still remain as core issues or final status issues.  As far as any
discussion of other declarations, I just don't know.

          Q    Has the President made any contact with any other leaders in
the Middle East in order to further facilitate the process?  As in Wye
River, for instance, he called on King Hussein to come over -- can he seek
the help through telephone calls or something?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I certainly don't want to preclude as an option
that's available to the President, but I'm not aware that he's done
anything in the last 36 hours on that front.

          Q    Could we describe this as a top-down conference, or a
bottom-up -- meet with both sides, and trilaterals, for example, and so on
and so forth?  How do we describe --

          MR. LOCKHART:  I'm not quite sure what it means, but probably the
best answer is both, since Dennis had met with both sides today; the
President has met with both sides on the leader basis on a bilateral basis,
and we'll have to see where we go from there.

          Q    Do they meet with -- trilateral at the lower level?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think, as I indicated, the Secretary of State
and Ambassador Ross met in a room with the Palestinian delegation and the
Israeli delegation.

          Q    Can you give us a sense and maybe some substance of what the
President's non-summit presidential activities have been today?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I know we had a discussion this morning about the
developments in the Senate on prescription drugs between the President and
I and the Deputy Chief of Staff, Maria Echaveste.  We spent probably 10 to
15 minutes this morning on some other items before we got started on the
issues not relating to the discussions here.  And at some point, either
later this evening or early tomorrow morning, we'll have a session on the
speech he plans to give to the NAACP.

          Q    Joe, can you say if Chelsea is still up here?

          MR. LOCKHART:  She is.

          Q    -- and how long she might stay and what she might be doing?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I don't have much more than I had yesterday on
that subject.  I expect if the President goes back tonight, she'll
accompany him back, or tomorrow morning.  I don't know the answer whether
she'll come back when the President comes back.

          Q    What happens Saturday when the Israelis -- will everybody
stay up here, would you be giving information --

          MR. LOCKHART:  We'll probably stay about the same level.  There
will certainly be people here.  I expect the delegations will all remain,
and as necessary, we'll come down to report anything or report that we have
nothing to report.

          Q    In any of the conversations with Prime Minister Barak, has
the President talked about Syria?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I don't want to preclude that, but certainly no
one's made me aware of that.

          Q    Are there issues such as the Israeli territory deployment
from the West Bank being discussed at the presidential level?

          MR. LOCKHART:  My understanding is, the discussions, to date,
have been focused on the core issues that have been identified in advance,
so I just don't have any information beyond that.

          THE PRESS:  Thank you.

                         END          6:20 P.M. EDT

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