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Special Event

White House Spokesman Addresses Press on Camp David Summit

Aired July 14, 2000 - 5:19 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Joe Lockhart, who is the White House spokesman, is about to talk to reporters just outside Camp David, Maryland. We're going to send our apologies to E.J. and to John Fund, and let's listen to what Joe Lockhart has to say.

JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Since I was here last, the president has had two bilateral meetings, first with Prime Minister Barak at the president's cabin on the back patio. When that was complete, the president took a short walk over to the cabin where Chairman Arafat has been staying for a bilateral meeting there.

The president then met with his team briefly. He's now currently preparing to record his radio address, which is on a domestic subject, and then he'll no doubt have more activity tonight, but I don't have any of that confirmed yet.

QUESTION: Anybody in on the bilaterals, anyone else sitting there?

LOCKHART: Translator with -- interpreter with Arafat. I think the Barak meeting today was a one on one.

QUESTION: How long?

LOCKHART: We'll double-check. I don't have the -- I don't have the times on it. Some of the Barak meetings have had note-takers, but this one we can double-check.

QUESTION: The alignment of the experts group, if I can call it that, groups, did they keep meeting? Do you know how long they went?

LOCKHART: They, as far -- I don't know if each and every one is still meeting now, but I understand that they were all meeting today. I expect that sometime in the next hour or two they will all break, report back to their own delegations, report to us on any progress they may have made today.

QUESTION: Joe, what's the reaction to the report from the Palestinian officials or sources are saying that Dennis presented a proposal last night that they believed was too much -- too similar to what the Israelis were proposing, that they didn't like it, threatened to walk out and the president then intervened? The proposal that had been given to them by Dennis has been withdrawn. LOCKHART: I think commenting on that would break the basic tenets of the news blackout. Those of you who have to report even in a news blackout will just have to take your chances.

QUESTION: Joe, wait a second. Does that mean you don't want to say anything? You don't want to confirm or deny it?

LOCKHART: I think that's what I said.

QUESTION: The prime minister and Chairman Arafat have not met again?

LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: Joe, can you provide a little more information about this meeting with the Palestinian leaders and Secretary Albright? I mean is this just courtesy calls, or did they provide specific information that the secretary wants to take back to Camp David?

LOCKHART: Well, I think the information, in their point of view, they've made quite clear because I think they've been available to the media this afternoon. But I think the secretary wanted a chance to go and talk to them.

She had a good meeting. She listened carefully to their point of view. I think Chairman Arafat thought it was important, thought this was a good idea for her to take this time to listen to their point of view. I think they laid out their concerns that -- how it was -- on why it was necessary to bring about a genuine peace. Again, I think they are quite able to articulate their own point of view.

I think Secretary Albright spent some time explaining, you know, why we have the arrangements we do here at Camp David, talked a little bit about the task at hand in terms that I think you've probably heard from her before the negotiations started, talking about neither side getting 100 percent, how these are the most difficult issues that the parties face, which makes this very difficult, very hard. And, you know, as they work through these issues, this process is bound to get harder as they move along.

I think she also made the point that this is a very important process for all parties involved and we believe it's important that people do what they can to support the process.

Yes.

QUESTION: Divert for one second, is the administration pleased with the tobacco verdict in Florida -- $145 billion?

LOCKHART: Well, the administration doesn't take a view on private lawsuits, but our view about the tobacco industry and their behavior is quite clear based on the actions the Justice Department is preparing to recoup money, based on our cooperation with states as far as trying to change their marketing practices and their targeting of children. LOCKHART: So without commenting specifically on this particular case, we have always believed that the tobacco industry is responsible for the way they have marketed and produced their products.

WOODRUFF: White House Spokesman Joe Lockhart commenting there at the end on a verdict today by a jury in Florida, awarding $140-some billion in punitive damages in a class-action lawsuit, unprecedented class-action lawsuit, against the big tobacco companies.

Before that, Joe Lockhart explained that President Clinton met in a one-on-one meeting today with the Israeli prime minister -- another meeting with the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat -- and beyond that, really, did not give much of a picture of how much progress is being made.

But he said the experts are still meeting. And he separately described how Secretary Albright has been meeting with a group of Palestinian politicians who made their way to Maryland and had wanted to be in on the Camp David talks, but they had evidently, as of now, will not be.

We'll bring you any developments, of course, on that Camp David summit as soon as we know about them.

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