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President Clinton Announced Middle East Peace SummitAired October 14, 2000 - 8:40 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you know, we have been working for more than a week now to try to persuade the parties in the Middle East to find a way out of the recent cycle of violence, find a way back to negotiations. I'm very pleased that Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat have accepted President Mubarak's invitation to attend a summit at Sharm el-Sheikh. The summit will convene Monday and in the meantime, we expect that both parties will do all in their power to cease hostilities and halt the violence.
Our central objectives must now be to stop the violence, to restore calm and safety, to agree on a fact finding mechanism concerning how this began and how it can be prevented from occurring again, and to find a way back to dialogue and negotiations.
Now, we should be under no illusions. The good news is the parties have agreed to meet and the situation appears to be calmer. But the path ahead is difficult. After the terrible events of the past few days, the situation is still quite tense. But President Mubarak and I are convinced that we must make every effort to break the cycle of violence.
Now, as all of you know, I have to go to Denver and I'm running a little late, but the truth is, we're in that period of time where I believe leading up to the summit the less those of us say who are going to be there the better. And so at least for the moment I want to let my statement stand for itself and I assure you I will continue to do everything I can to minimize the violence and to do all the preparation necessary to maximize the chances of a successful meeting.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: A very quick, short statement from President Clinton at the White House announcing that Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak have agreed to sit down in Egypt for a summit to stop, as the president says, stop the violence and get to the place where they can get back to a point of dialogue and negotiations.
Our John King standing by at the White House.
John, I heard the president say that this was an invitation from President Mubarak of Egypt and yet you have to think that President Clinton was doing a lot behind-the-scenes to make this summit take place. JOHN KING, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, one of the reasons the president didn't want to take questions is because they don't, there's a great deal of uncertainty now as to what the leaders are willing to discuss when they get to Sharm el-Sheikh. So the president's saying it is an achievement just that Mr. Arafat and Mr. Barak will meet. He outlined his goals for the summit, one, cessation of the violence; two, agreement on a fact finding commission to look into the causes of the last two weeks of violence. There's disagreement there. The Palestinians want that to be led by the United Nations. The Israelis will not accept that. They want it led by the United States.
And the president's saying hopefully that eventually you'd get an agreement to return to the bargaining table. No one here at the White House, though, believes that will happen in the near future at all. The high hopes the president had just back in July that they were on the verge of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement now shattered, the main goal now just to get Mr. Barak and Mr. Arafat to look across a table at each other and to call off all the violence.
KAGAN: And, in fact, John, you could hear the frustration of that reality in the president's voice when he said, you know, let's be honest, this is not going to be easy. It doesn't sound like he has incredibly high expectations for the summit.
KING: He does not. No expectations of peace. Really, just the expectation if you could finally get these two back in the room together, if you've watched them in interviews on our air even just in recent days, it is clear right now these two men who were so close to an agreement at Camp David, who spoke at the time of how much they had come to trust each other, right now it is clear not only do they not trust each other, but they don't like each other very much.
The goal right now to convince them that they are neighbors. They have no choice but to live next to each other so that at a minimum if they cannot make peace, at least they should stop the fighting.
KAGAN: And so the president shortly to head to Egypt, but first to Denver. What's the purpose of that trip?
KING: The president was scheduled to be out on a four day political fundraising and Democratic campaigning trip. He had canceled the first day of that. He will go out today and raise money in Denver, also, Seattle, Washington, then he will fly back here overnight so that he can get a little bit of rest and then leave Sunday for that Monday meeting in Egypt. But today's travel was previously scheduled political travel that the president, now that this summit has been arranged, believes he can go out today and do that. But again, he's cutting, he's dropping the Sunday portion of the trip so that he can return here and then head to Sharm el-Sheikh for the summit, which begins on Monday.
KAGAN: A lot of miles ahead. John King at the White House, thank you very much.
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