JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE
DENNIS ROSS, SPECIAL MIDDLE EAST COORDINATOR AND U.S. DELEGATION LEADER, AMBASSADOR ELYAKIM RUBINSTEIN, HEAD OF THE ISRAELI DELEGATION AND, AMBASSADOR FAYIZ TARAWNAH, HEAD OF THE JORDANIAN DELEGATION
TUESDAY, JUNE 7, 1994
MR. ROSS: This is the fourth meeting of the U.S.-Jordanian-Israeli Trilateral Commission on Economics that we have hosted, and this was a very productive and very useful meeting. I want to give you a kind of brief summary of some of the results of the trilateral, and as I said, there will be a paper that will be issued a little later.
In the area of the two subgroups of the trilateral there is a trade, banking and finance subgroup, there is a cooperative project subgroup in the area of the trade, banking and finance subgroup, Jordan and Israel agreed to begin work on a draft framework which would explore and outline future trade and economic relations between the two countries. They also agreed to continue their discussions and consultations on banking issues. They also discussed in detail between themselves and with us the respective economic agreements that the Israelis have reached with the Palestinians, and one of the consequences of the discussions is they have come to the agreement that it would be useful to have a trilateral with the Palestinians in which we might also take part.
On the cooperative projects, they agreed to engage simultaneously on a number of issues. First, both Jordan and Israel had presented conceptual papers on a comprehensive plan for development of the Jordan Rift Valley. They have asked us to assist them now in merging these two master plans into an umbrella master plan, and to that end, we will not only do that but we will that will provide a basis for a subgroup meeting of the trilateral, and that will take place in July in the region.
Second, there is also an agreement that we would convene a subgroup trilateral on tourism, also in July, also in the region, and there would be a special focus on tourism and tourism promotion in the Dead Sea and Aqaba-Elat area.
Third, both parties will designate one official who will be responsible for trilateral coordination on a transboundary cultural heritage park in the Rift Valley. We actually have proposed a trilateral site visit here in this country to look at the development of national parks so that we could provide a model for that development.
In addition, the parties have agreed in principle on the utility of constructing a road to link Jordan, Israel and Egypt in the vicinity of Aqaba and Elat. Here again, there will be a preliminary site survey in the region in July of 1994 concurrent with negotiations that the two of them will initiate on common boundaries, which is something that was outlined in their common agenda that was initialed on September 14, 1993.
Lastly, the three of us agreed as well to convene an experts level meeting in the region to discuss civil aviation cooperation in civil aviation. This, too, is projected to be for July 1994.
Now, I want to add one other set of comments before I turn it over to my colleagues. Jordan and Israel, following consultations that they had in the or I should say on the occasion of this trilateral meeting have also reached a number of understandings in the context of their bilateral negotiations, and I’d like to tick those off before I conclude.
First, the two sides have concluded common subagendas in the fields of water, energy and the environment and security borders and territorial matters. Second, agreement was reached to set up a commission on boundaries, security, water, and the environment and related issues, and there will be relevant subcommissions on each item to discuss the subagendas and other matters.
Third, they agreed that there will be other parts of their common agenda that would then be negotiated. There will be negotiations on economic matters in order to prepare for future bilateral cooperation. The results of these negotiations will be incorporated into drafts which will form parts of the treaty of peace, and the negotiations on all the above will take place in the region starting in July of 1994.
I would just like to say that what is striking from these two days of discussions and what I’ve just outlined is that you have a very practical way to proceed. If there is a hallmark or if there is one word that describes the approach, I would say it’s a very pragmatic, down-to-earth, practical approach on how to proceed and how to work to make progress.
AMB. TARAWNAH: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I would like to express the satisfaction of the Jordanian delegation, and I feel as we conclude the fourth session of the Trilateral Economic Committee. We are pleased with what has been accomplished and believe this session has been an important juncture in our pursuit of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
In particular, we note our agreement with the Israeli delegation to form a commission to handle important bilateral issues as borders, security, water and the environment and related issues. Such topics will be handled in an organized manner through sub-commissions that not only address current issues but, hopefully, also will set the stage for future bilateral cooperation within a regional context. This agreement also responds to the intent of items 6 and 7 of the common agenda signed between Jordan and Israel on September 14, 1993.
We are also pleased to have worked out the mechanism to delineate and demarcate our common borders and to initiate feasibility studies on a road that would link Jordan, Israel and Egypt. Our vision for the development of the Jordan River Valley, almost similar as they are, will be merged into a common master plan. Potential for third country tourism will be further explored.
It goes without saying that integrity of the agenda has to be respected, and we would negotiate the other topics of the agenda once an initial breakthrough has been achieved on the issues and topics that I have mentioned. Our planned future sessions and interim sessions discussed above will be held in the region starting July. The group will conduct their respective activities in the field for maximum efficiency and actual requirements.
I’m pleased to note the conclusion of a common sub-agendas between Jordan and Israel on water, energy and environment, borders, security and territorial matters. The accomplishment of this session has surpassed expectations, and I want to recognize with deep appreciation the constructive role of the delegation of the United States.
AMB. RUBINSTEIN: The details the basic details of what has been achieved have been outlined by Dennis and by Fayiz, so I wouldn’t repeat that. I’d just like to note that we are glad that yet another step in the road for peace has been taken. It’s a long road; it’s still a long road because all the topics that have been discussed here need deliberation, negotiation, finalization, depends on the topic. It’s not easy, but it will be done since the will is there on both sides, and this is something which should be noted. This is not a dramatic step; it’s a fruit of a long, arduous effort by both sides, but it’s good it’s been achieved, and I think I can associated myself with Ambassador Tarawnah by saying that the achievements this time were beyond the quote, unquote "Normal expectations."
The secret of moving is, of course, the balancing between priorities that each side has and giving the right weight to the priorities of each side. The state of Israel would like to achieve with Jordan as well as with the other neighboring states a treaty of peace. All these steps are parts of the road to that goal. We note with satisfaction the subagendas which are not just lists of items but a substantial effort in qualification of positions and looking forward to agreements on those important items like security, boundaries, water, environment.
We note with satisfaction the moving of negotiations to the region, which is of course a meaningful step, and we look forward to working on all these subjects as well as economic issues, like trade, future economic relationship, banking, et cetera, with our colleagues.
So, what we tell you today is basically that this additional part of the road to peace that is being walked on this week is, in our view, meaningful; it needs a lot of additional work to be finalized into a treaty of peace.
Questions and Answers:
Q Once you have your common national park I’m addressing both of you gentlemen if I might once you have your common national park and you have your road, will Israeli citizens and individuals carrying Israeli passports be allowed to use that road and use that park and enter Jordanian territory, and will Jordanian passport holders be able to enter Israeli territory?
AMB. TARAWNAH: Well, this is all we are trying to prepare for the future, sir. And I just want to refer to our common agenda, Section C or Article C, that the the whole negotiation will culminate in a peace treaty, so all of our work is in the context of a peace treaty. And many of the mechanisms, which is again, an article in the common agenda, to search for appropriate mechanisms, to discuss, and all the issues of the bilateral nature. Now, these are details, and we have to work, first of all, the important elements of these items, and then hopefully that, as we finalize the peace, then the sky is the limit, sir.
AMB. RUBINSTEIN: Such a road, when when it’s opened and there’s a checkpoint that will enable people to move, should accommodate the residents of both countries. We, for our part, look forward to hosting our Jordanian friends and their Jordanian nationals in Israel. As my friend Ambassador Tarawnah said, "It’s a process which at the end will lead to that but will probably begin with the road and with the efforts to come to this point that you just mentioned.
Q Does all of this preparation work bring you any closer to reconvening the bilateral Washington conference?
MR. ROSS: We haven’t yet made a judgement on when we feel it’s going to be the most appropriate time to reconvene the bilaterals here in Washington. What you have here was a trilateral set of discussions that also provided an occasion for bilateral discussions and for progress on both a trilateral and bilateral basis. As you heard, they will have sub-groups, on a bilateral and a trilateral basis, along with us, that will meet in the region, but we would anticipate at some point when we resume bilateral negotiations here there would also be a bilateral Jordanian – Israeli discussion taking place as well.
Q Does this make it any easier? Does this ease the way for resumption of the bilaterals?
MR. ROSS: Well, I would say at this point what you have is obviously a positive step on a pathway that is moving us in the overall direction of where we want to go. I think Eli said it very well, that there is still a good deal of work to be done, in terms of their negotiations, other negotiations are really at a different stage and we’ll make a judgement based upon what we think will be productive in regard to all the negotiations.
Q Where are the meetings? In Jordan, or in Israel, or alternately?
AMB. RUBINSTEIN: Well, the meetings will hopefully take place both in Jordan and Israel and the exact venue should be agreed upon.
Q This will encourage Secretary of State to go to the area while he would be in Istanbul on the 9th, only two days from today.
MR. ROSS: Well, the Secretary, at this point, has not yet made a judgement on when it would be most fruitful for him to go. I know that he gave an interview this morning where he talked about planning to go to the region in the near future but that has not, the precise timing has not yet been decided.
Q You don’t know what is what is the near future is?
MR. ROSS: I can’t go beyond what the near future is.
Q Ambassador Tarawnah, what would you say to the perhaps anticipated criticisms from Damascus or other Arab capitals that you’re in effect normalizing with Israel before you have peace?
AMB. TARAWNAH: I haven’t heard anything personally yet, but if you are referring to any that are possible, well, we have to make it very clear here that we lag behind. In the last four or five months, or, as a matter of fact, since September 14th, we signed our common agenda, but we never had the opportunity to open it and to discuss and negotiate the items in the agenda. And we are we have a very long way to go, sir. And we are looking at the bilateral issues. We are not harming anybody in the process. We are preparing for very serious negotiations related to the Jordanian Israeli, but preserving at the same time, of course, everybody’s right as it if it is related one way or another directly or indirectly to our agenda. The Trilateral Economic Committee has been operational for quite some time now, and it was due in terms of time and in terms of agenda. So there is no place for criticism.
Q Mr. Ambassador, the finalizing of all these plans presupposes lifting of the economic boycott?
AMB. TARAWNAH: Well, we still have a very long way to go, sir. And again, this is not a Jordanian decision, this is an Arab decision. But we are in the process of preparing the solid grounds for the future cooperation. And as I said, and as it is stipulated in our common agenda, hopefully that the bilateral negotiations, especially on the economic fields, will be within a context of within a regional context, not only the Jordanian-Israeli but also, hopefully, that it will spread to cover the whole region. And this will be in due time.
Q But will you be informing other Arab countries about the results of your talks, particularly the Palestinians and the Syrians?
AMB. TARAWNAH: Of course we have a full coordination with our partners in the peace process, and as Ambassador Ross said, that if we have any sessions or inter-sessional meetings in the region, to maximize the efficiency and the productivity of the experts meeting on sites or whatever, but negotiations in Washington, whenever the co- sponsors invite us, we will be here.
And the coordination with our brothers the Syrians and the Palestinians and the Lebanese is going on, and we always inform them of exactly what is taking place in our track.
Q Sir, is it clear that the talks will be in either Jordan or Israel or both, and that in the region does not also mean Cyprus?
AMB. TARAWNAH: No, sir, when we say in the region we mean one of the two countries, but the venue or the exact location, we’ll leave it to the governments.
Q Ambassador Tarawnah, do you have commitment from Israel regarding withdrawal from your occupied territories?
AMB. TARAWNAH: Well, it is the we have some agendas now on borders, security and territorial matters, and we hope we are now certain that will start defining, delineating and demarcating the borders through the mechanism that we agreed upon, and this will settle everything.