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CLINTON: Now, we're in a new phase. And we have to protect the hard-won achievements of the last 3.5 years, and we know we'll have to work hard to fulfill the hopes for the Middle East and for peace.

I know we can look to you as a friend and partner, and I look forward to being your friend and partner on this historic mission.


MUBARAK: Ladies and gentlemen, I was very pleased to meet once again with President Clinton and exchange with him views and ideas of matters of common concern.

Let me first seize the opportunity to congratulate the president on the reaffirmation of the American people's confidence in his wise and inspiring leadership. It is mostly assuring to many to know that they have a knowledgeable and a far-sighted friend in the White House.

In our discussion today, we had the opportunity to review several issues of special interest to us.

First, we reviewed recent developments of the Middle East peace process. While we are pleased by the progress which has been achieved on the Israeli-Palestinian track, we were alarmed by the difficulties and the complications that have appeared lately.

Such developments make the peace process a fragile and vulnerable one. I'm referring here specifically to the Israeli settlement activities, particularly in Jerusalem.

We all know that the issue of Jerusalem is as sensitive to Moslems and to Christians as it is to Jews. Hence, the rights and sentiments of all these people should be fully respected.

It was for this reason that I urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to reconsider the decision taken by the Israeli cabinet to authorize the construction of thousands of housing units for Israelis in east Jerusalem. I urged him also not to close any Palestinian office there.

Our purpose here is to eliminate all potential sources of tension and violence. It is equally important to avoid any violation of the interim agreement and the related documents.

We view such actions as flagrant violations that would not serve any useful purpose. At any rate, I agreed with prime minister to stay in touch and deal with these and other issues with an open mind in light of their sensitivity.

We are looking forward to the carrying out of further redeployments in good faith. On the other hand, we hope that the two parties will engage in the final status negotiations without delay. Time is of essence. Every day that goes by without attaining meaningful progress hurts the chance of peace.

Our commitment to a comprehensive peace requires us to exert maximum effort in order to get the negotiations resumed on the Syrian and the Lebanese track. I have discussed the matter at length with President Assad and found him positively inclined. He reiterated serious commitment to a just and comprehensive peace settlement on the basis of the Madrid formula.

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