Jerusalem, October 10, 1994
FM PERES: The present visit of the Secretary of State is a very important one, for two reasons: One, considering what happened already in between the previous visit and this one, there is a list of many changes that one should not overlook. And also, looking forward, with the great chances and great problems that are awaiting all of us.
On the changes that have occurred since the visit of the Secretary last time, may I say the following: that our country, our government, is very grateful for the special effort the Secretary of State and the President of the United States did in combatting the economic boycott. As you know, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries actually announced that they are giving up two of the three conditions of the boycott; and in our meeting in Washington with the Crown Prince of Jordan, he announced that actually Jordan even went further than that. Now, preparing for the Casablanca meeting, we can see the unfolding of one of the most demanding and difficult problems that Israel has had, and I am very glad that the American efforts, together with us, clearly, created a new opening in that domain.
Then, since then, we have established relations with Morocco, we have established relations with Tunisia, the occasion being again the State Department, where the Secretary of State and the Foreign Minister of Tunisia and myself met and announced it publicly. We are working still in some other quarters I don’t want to refer to it before it will wind up in results.
I believe that, more and more, everybody in the Middle East is beginning to understand that we are having a confrontation in three different domains: the political to create a hope, a promise and a condition for peace; economically to elevate the standard of living, to reduce poverty and bitterness, jealousies and hatred; and the third, unfortunately, we still have the military aspects, where you have on one hand a crazy man like Saddam Hussein, on the other hand you have the HAMAS organization. I believe that all those three efforts are inseparable, and we are very glad we have such open, responsible and positive relations with the United States.
I read very carefully the declaration of the Foreign Minister of Syria, Mr. a-Shara, and there, too, for the first time, I noticed a reference to all those three problems. It enlarges the picture, it creates maybe more fields to act in, but it also opens new horizons for the construction of an entirely new situation in the Middle East.
In our talks this morning, we went over all those problems and proposals, and we have a full agenda before us. Everybody will try to do whatever he can to advance the agenda into a new reality.
SEC’Y CHRISTOPHER: I think the Foreign Minister has admirably summed up the situation that we face. The original purpose of my trip here, of course, was to add to our efforts to facilitate the peace process between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and we spent most of our time this morning discussing that how we can make progress on each of the tracks.
But beyond that, of course, we are now confronted by a new situation in Kuwait, and we discussed that. I will simply say briefly that we will not permit Saddam Hussein and the people of Iraq to intimidate us in any respect. We are absolutely firm that we will prevent any aggression there, that they will not be able to achieve any progress in getting the sanctions lifted by this technique. To the contrary, I think their actions there belie any effort that they might be making to justify lifting the sanctions.
I also think that it would quite incomplete if I didn’t express my abhorrence at the terrorist attack here in the middle of Jerusalem last night. It’s a reminder to us who have traveled from the United States of the difficulties under which you live here on a constant basis in Jerusalem. We stand firmly together with you against that kind of terrorism, and we offer our condolences to the families of the dead and injured in that. It causes us to redouble our efforts to achieve in the region so that incidents like that can be a thing of the past. But we now know, once again, and we have fresh evidence that there are enemies of peace and we will not let them prevail.
Mr. Minister, I thank you for your steady and unstinting cooperation at every stage. We have worked very closely together and will continue to do so.
SEC’Y CHRISTOPHER: Whenever I meet with the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister, I am preparing myself for the next meeting in Syria. As you know, my role is to facilitate the discussions, and so these meetings I have here are always preparation for the next round. I expect to be shuttling back and forth between here and Damascus, and get the preparation for those by the meetings that we have here. So yes, I am better prepared for the meetings than I would have been without these meetings. I will be trying to work to narrow the gaps which were obvious from some of the statements that were made by Foreign Minister Shara in what I regard as a very important step forward in the public diplomacy.
SEC’Y CHRISTOPHER: I think you will have to understand that it would not make it possible for me to do my job well if I were to indicate what the proposals were or even if there were new proposals. But we are working very hard in a very endeavor to narrow the considerable gaps that exist between the parties. That involves a questioning and probing, trying to facilitate the parties’ coming together. But I wouldn’t want to get into the business of identifying new proposals, because I know what the next question is.