Press Briefing by P.J. Crowley at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt (10/16/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                         (Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt)

_____For Immediate Release
October 16, 2000

                      PRESS BRIEFING BY P.J. CROWLEY

                              The Hyatt Hotel
                          Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

3:15 P.M. (L)

     MR. CROWLEY:  I just thought I would -- I wouldn't consider this a
briefing, maybe it's a light briefing or a gaggle --

     Q    A giggle.

     MR. CROWLEY:  It could end up a giggle, that would be fine.  Just for
the benefit of those of you who were not up at the summit site, at the golf
course, to maybe go through the morning a little bit and give you a sense
of physically what is up there.

     The President arrived, as you know, just after 10:00 a.m.  He went
into a bilateral meeting with the host, President Hosni Mubarak.  That
lasted about 25 minutes, in the Sinai Suite.  The golf course is a
two-story, quite lovely club house.  And most of the activity has been on
the second floor.  You come up stairs and there is a large foyer and,
actually, a lot of people have been -- members of each team of the
respective delegations have been up in that foyer conversing in corners or
in combinations.  So there has been a lot of dialogue and a lot of
intercourse going on there, in and around the various bilateral meetings or
the formal plenary and the lunch, those just completed.

     Following his meeting with President Mubarak, the President came back
to the U.S. suite that we're using, the Noweiba Suite, where he had very
quick meetings with Prime Minister Barak, for about five minutes; Chairman
Arafat for about five minutes.  And then he followed those with bilateral
meetings with King Abdullah for about 25 minutes and the Secretary General,
Kofi Annan, for about 25 minutes.

     At that point, the leaders then congregated in President Mubarak's
suite, the Sinai Suite -- they then congregated there and then walked into
the plenary room.  The plenary room was in the Sharm Suite or Room,
whatever, large room, you saw it on Egyptian television.  There were there
for about a half hour.

     Separately, Sandy Berger -- Samuel R. Berger, the National Security
Advisor, met with Javiar Solana, from the EU.  The Secretary of State has
also had her own schedule this morning.  She had a bilateral with Foreign
Minister Moussa of Egypt.  And then together there was a meeting of Foreign
Ministers --  collectively, Foreign Ministers during the course of the
morning.  And, in fact, they are now resuming their meetings after lunch.

     The leaders came down from the plenary session -- I should say one
thing about the plenary session.  You saw the formal aspect of it there in
the horseshoe table.  But then, before they left, for about 10 minutes or
so, the leaders themselves just kind of huddled over in a corner by a
window overlooking the golf course, and they had their own kind of private

     And then they adjourned from the plenary session, downstairs, to the
main lobby, where they had set up seven tables.  All the leaders sat at one
table, and again if you -- from left to right, it was Javiar Solana, Prime
Minister Barak, King Abdullah, President Mubarak sat at the center, to his
right was President Clinton, to his right Chairman Arafat, and to his
right, Kofi Annan.  And then there are about 40 members of each side's
delegation that were also attending the lunch.

     So I would describe this morning as basically -- the President had the
opportunity to kind of establish a baseline of where we are in his meetings
with each of the leaders; and now I think this afternoon, in probably every
conceivable combination you can imagine, I expect there will be other
meetings both among the leaders, delegations, foreign ministers, et cetera,
as we work to get down to some of the specifics about what we believe we
can accomplish this afternoon.

     Q    PJ, can you tell us, in those bilats with Barak and Arafat, what
the level of acrimony was regarding the other?  What they were basically
saying, can you give us any feel for that?

     MR. CROWLEY:  In the President's meetings with the two leaders?  They
were very quick, I would describe them as procedural.  So they didn't
really get into the -- in a five-minute meeting, you're not going to get
into a significant discussion of the substance.  I think it was just more a
case of touching base real quick, a couple of things about how the summit
would proceed during the day.  And I would expect that you would have
follow-up meetings with the President and both leaders this afternoon.

     Q    Do you have any read-out of the plenary, itself?

     MR. CROWLEY:  I do not.

     Q    PJ, can you tell us if the parties have agreed to an agenda, to a
common agenda?

     MR. CROWLEY:  I think that the purpose of this morning was to kind of
set a baseline on what we would expect to accomplish this afternoon.  I
think that work is -- the specifics of how they're going to attack the
three areas that we've outlined at issue, working on practical steps to
extend the period of calm and end the violence; secondly, to work on the
details of this fact-finding mechanism, as the President described it; and,
finally, just seeing how we might be able to start to think about moving
back towards dialogue and negotiation.

     Those, I think, are the broad areas of focus; but specifically how
we're going to work through the specific issues related to each of those
umbrella areas I think is still a matter that's being discussed.

     Q    From what you could see -- and I know you're speaking for the
U.S. -- but from what you heard or were told, how was Mr. Barak received by
the other leaders who spoke with him?  All kind of huddling, moving around,
meeting in that concourse, I guess?

     MR. CROWLEY:  I think from personal observation, obviously Prime
Minister Barak is approaching this in a very serious way.  I would say all
of the encounters that we've observed this morning I would describe as
business-like.  This is a very serious -- it's a very dangerous time and a
very serious matter and I think the leaders are approaching it that way.

     Q    My point is, do they talk to him in the same free way they talk
to each other?  Or was he -- let's be honest, was he sort of the outcast at
this meeting?  And did the President have a copy of Mubarak's statement
before he made it, because it certainly was prepared in advance and it
comes down very, very hard on Israel -- and he's the host.

     MR. CROWLEY:  I can't speak for President Mubarak --

     Q    No, I didn't ask you to.

     MR. CROWLEY:  I'm not aware that the Egyptians shared their statement
with us in advance.  As for how Prime Minister Barak was received --
obviously, he and the President have a very close working relationship.
Other than our meeting, I can't describe others.

     Q    Can you describe who was sitting where along that horseshoe
table?  And did you observe any interaction between Barak and Arafat --

     MR. CROWLEY:  I can say that there has been interaction among all of
the delegations during the course of the morning.  I can't speak
specifically about the Chairman and the Prime Minister.  I, personally, did
not observe any.

     At the plenary, again, in the horseshoe, from left to right, you had
Javiar Solana, you had Chairman Arafat -- I'm sorry, let's see.  No.
Javiar Solana, then Secretary General Annan, Prime Minister Barak,
President Clinton, President Mubarak, Chairman Arafat and King Abdullah,
from left to right on the horseshoe.

     Q    P.J., if the President's mood was somber this morning, almost to
the point of being dower, is there a sense of pessimism in the American
delegation, and is there one issue in particular that the President is
extremely worried about?

     MR. CROWLEY:  I think we're very realistic.  We approach this meeting
understanding how difficult a time this is, and how deep the wounds are
that have resulted of the tragic activities of the last couple of weeks.  I
think if we have an overriding focus it has to be first and foremost, to
stop the violence.  You can't expect to make progress in working through a
political solution to the issues that confront both sides in an environment
of violence.  So I think first and foremost, we have to see, and want to
achieve practical steps that allow us to extend a period of calm and
achieve a kind of disengagement that then allows you to make progress in
other areas.  So if i had to pick one out of the three, that would be the

     Q    But just to the second part of the question PJ, is there anything
in particular that's eating at him today?

     MR. CROWLEY:  John, I'm not getting your question.

     Q    Is there anything in particular that's eating at the President

     MR. CROWLEY:  I just think we understand how truly difficult and
challenging this is.

     Q    Can you describe and explain Kofi Annan's role in all this?  He
has claimed credit for bringing Arafat to the table.  Is he presenting
American ideas, that if the Americans presented them maybe Arafat wouldn't
accept them, but as he --

     MR. CROWLEY:  I'll defer to his able spokesman to describe specific
things that he wishes to accomplish here.  I think the Secretary General
has played a very constructive role in helping bring about this meeting.
We were working with him closely over the weekend, once President Mubarak
made the offer to convene the summit.  It was Secretary General Annan who
worked with both sides, to actually -- you know, along with the President
and his engagement -- across several leaders to try to help urge both sides
to attend.  And it was actually the Secretary General who was very
constructive in helping bring this about.

     But as for what ideas he brings to this meeting, I'll defer it to his

     Q    Not so much his ideas, but is he replacing the American role as
an honest broker in these discussions?

     MR. CROWLEY:  I think the American role remains unique in the peace
process.  I don't expect that to change.

     Q    Can you talk about the security -- top officials present -- in
the summit, in the delegations, i.e., the --

     MR. CROWLEY:  I have had a George Tenet sighting today, yes.

     Q    The President spoke about confidence-building measures necessary.
What are the specific confidence-building measures?

     MR. CROWLEY:  As to specifics that we may or may not discuss, I'm just
not going to get into the substance.

     Q    One other question.

     MR. CROWLEY:  Sure.

     Q    Why did the President decide to make his opening remarks in
public?  Was he trying to send a message?

     MR. CROWLEY:  I think that was by agreement between President Clinton
and President Mubarak.

     Q    Can you explained what happened to the Russians?  We saw that
apparently Putin, or maybe the Foreign Minister, wanted to come, and heard
that the Americans said no to them.

     MR. CROWLEY:  The attendance here was set by the Egyptians.
     Q    Is President Mubarak's statement helpful in reaching those goals
that you enunciated?

     MR. CROWLEY:  I have actually not heard President Mubarak's statement,
so I'm not able to comment on it.

     Q    PJ, is this a one-day summit, or is the President going to stay
longer if need be?

     MR. CROWLEY:  Right now, our schedule is driven by two factors.  The
two goal posts on the one side is that we have about 15 hours of crew rest
that requires us to stay here basically through midnight tonight.  On the
other end, there is a memorial service in Norfolk that the President plans
to attend, back in the states, on Wednesday morning.  In between that, I
think we'll be driven by the substance of the meeting, but right now we're
planning to leave at midnight.

     Q    PJ, is there any progress --

     MR. CROWLEY:  I would only say that in the middle of the game, let's
wait to see what the final score is.

     Q    PJ, what are the prospects for Arafat and Barak getting together
or having the three -- the President and the two -- get together?

     MR. CROWLEY:  Major, I'll give you the same answer.  We're in the
middle of the game.  I just can't predict what the plays will be.

     Q    Just to be precise, when is the latest that the President can
stay here if he were to make it back for that memorial service?

     MR. CROWLEY:  I think that he could stay for a number of hours into
tomorrow but that, right now, is not our schedule.

     Q    Might he stay until midnight --

     MR. CROWLEY:  No.  I think he could theoretically stay another 12
hours or so.

     Q    So until noon?

     MR. CROWLEY:  Yes.  In that vicinity.  You know, obviously, there is
some flexibility.  But right now, we're planning to leave at midnight.

     Q    Was there any kind of dispute over the agenda that delayed the
opening of the plenary?  The Israeli reporters --

     MR. CROWLEY:  I think, understandably, these are extraordinarily
difficult issues.  This is a very emotional time.  I think it is
understandable that you want to set expectations on all sides, asking the
question of each side, what do you want to accomplish today, what can we
accomplish today, how can we do that.

     So we've spent the morning working to try to establish where both
sides are, how to share ideas with the other participants on how to work
through the day so that at the end of the day we can clearly point to
progress in the major areas that we think confront both sides.

     So given the difficulty of the time, I think it's understandable that
it will take some time to work through not only what you want to
accomplish, how you want to accomplish, what specifically we can address in
the time that's available to the leaders.  And that is an ongoing process.

     Q    So is that a yes?  Was that a yes?

     MR. CROWLEY:  What was the question?  (Laughter.)

     Q    Disagreements over the agenda which delayed the opening of the
actual summit.

     MR. CROWLEY:  There's a process here that takes us from arrival,
establishing what we've got to work with.  Now I would say we're getting
into the meat of the issues.  I'm not aware of a specific dispute over the
agenda.  I am very much aware of how difficult these issues are.

     Last question, Andrea.

     Q    Do we have any independent confirmation that any of these Hamas
militants are being rearrested?  Do you have any independent confirmation
that Hamas militants are being rearrested?

     MR. CROWLEY:  I'm only aware from news reports that some of them are
back in detention.  But I don't -- I'm not an expert on that front.

     Q    We have this security arrangement, this three-way arrangement.
Have we been able to --

     MR. CROWLEY:  I believe that some members of Hamas are back in
detention, but I will defer to the Palestinian Authority on precise
numbers.  Okay?

     Q    This is a hard question to ask, but let me ask it.  Having heard
the President's impassioned plea, are you saying that he is prepared to
leave here even if he cannot get the two sides to agree to end the violence
-- because of other schedule matters?

     MR. CROWLEY:  Barry, I would only answer it this way.  The President
has devoted more than seven-and-a-half years to the peace process.  I can
only imagine that he will work tirelessly during today and he will be
prepared to do whatever he can, given the time available, to help move
these parties away from confrontation back towards conciliation and
negotiation and that's why he's here.

     How long he stays and how much progress we make, we'll have to monitor
as we go through the day.

     Thanks everybody.

                                   END             3:33 P.M. (L)

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