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Presidents Clinton And Mubarak Hold News Conference After Meeting At The White House

MARCH 10, 1997


CLINTON: Thank you.

Good afternoon.

I was glad to have the chance to welcome President Mubarak back to the White House. He has been a valued friend of the United States for 16 years now, one of the very first leaders to visit me in 1993, and also one of the first now to come to Washington during my second term.

Through this meeting and through consultations with other leaders from the region including Prime Minister Netanyahu, Chairman Arafat and King Hussein -- who will be here next week -- we are working to help the parties find common ground for progress toward lasting peace.

We know that these efforts cannot succeed without the leadership of Egypt. Since the Camp David Accords in 1979, Egypt has been a powerful force for peace in the Middle East. That has continued to be true through the last 3.5 years, a time of extraordinary progress toward peace and repeated challenges.

Now, as Israel and the Palestinians embark on the difficult task of permanent status negotiations, as we look to revive negotiations between Israel and Syria, and then bring Lebanon into the process to complete the circle of peace, we know that Egypt's leadership will be vital to finish the job.

In January, Israelis and Palestinians once again demonstrated that even though the challenges are great, the will to create peace is there, and agreement on difficult issues can be achieved through genuine negotiations.

But we've also been reminded recently of how difficult it is to maintain the momentum toward peace. Clearly, we're at a moment when all those with a stake in the peace process must rededicate themselves to building confidence and making progress.

Today the United States and Egypt have deepened our own understanding and our partnership, our determination to coordinate our efforts even more closely, and to encourage the parties to tackle the tough questions ahead.

We also discussed how we can increase our cooperation on issues of regional security and expand the ties of commerce between our people.

Stability and security in the region demands that the people of Egypt and all the peoples of the Middle East are rewarded in their efforts by greater prosperity. I congratulated President Mubarak on the strong economic advances Egypt has made in the last two years.

The work that he and Vice President Gore have done and the U.S.- Egypt partnership for economic growth and development have made a real difference by promoting privatization and tariff reduction. The president's council, a group of business leaders from the United States and Egypt, has achieved dramatic success, increasing trade and investment between our nations and deepening support for necessary economic reforms.

Now Egypt is creating new growth and opportunity, building a better future for its people and for others throughout the Middle East.

Mr. President, you and I have been together here at the White House, in Cairo, at the summit of the peacemakers at Sharm el-Sheikh, and elsewhere, working for a just and lasting peace and a new day in the region.

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