Press Briefing by Joe Lockhart from Camp David (7/16/00 - morning)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                          (Camp David, Maryland)
Immediate Release                       July 16, 2000

                              PRESS BRIEFING
                               JOE LOCKHART

                        Thurmont Elementary School
                            Thurmont, Maryland

10:55 A.M. EDT

     MR. LOCKHART:  Good morning, everybody.  For those of you who were
lucky enough to get home yesterday, welcome back.  For those of you who
weren't, I share your pain.  Let me briefly run through the schedule up
until the point where I think we briefed you yesterday informally.  And
then I'll tell you what little I know about today.

     I think as we told you yesterday, yesterday was a day of informal
discussions.  The President spent a little bit of time in these discussions
with the groups that were working on the issues.  He had a session with
Prime Minister Barak and with Chairman Arafat.  They all dined together
last night.  Last night's seating arrangement allowed for the President to
sit between the two leaders, so they had a discussion through the dinner.
The President met with his team after that dinner, and then retired for the

     The discussions between the groups, between the parties, have gone on
sort of at their own schedule, so I don't have a sort of point-by-point,
meeting-by-meeting readout of that.

     As for today, the President is at the Evergreen Chapel now for
services.  They began at 10:30 a.m.  This is a weekly custom for the
President when he's up here.  Generally, services are attended by about 60
or so people from the base, mostly military personnel who are stationed
there.  When that meeting is over, the President will have a session with
his team as they go over the schedule for the rest of the day and make some
decisions on what they do today.

     Let me give you a little bit more, though, on a question that has come
up a few times -- the delegates who are in Emmitsburg.  They met last night
in an informal session.  The Americans and the Palestinians talked from
about 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 work out how they would proceed.  The
American group and the Israelis met at about 9:30 p.m. for an hour.  They
met this morning in an trilateral meeting at about 8:45 a.m., agreed almost
immediately to break into smaller groups.  They've proceeded to do that and
are meeting now in smaller groups. As I get more on that, I will let you

     That's what I have.

     Q    Joe, you mentioned dinner last night.  When he sits between the
two of them, does he talk to one and then the other?  Does this become a
three-way conversation?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think it's a combination of, because obviously each
of the other leaders has someone to their other side.  So it's a
combination of the three of them talking to each other with some one-on-one
conversation, and some as the other person is, in a polite way, speaking to
the person to their left, I guess.

     Q    Joe, there is a lot of pessimism coming out of Jerusalem today.
Precisely, the Israeli Foreign Minister told reporters that after talking
to people here at Camp David that they are not very close at all and that
he's not very optimistic.  Any comment on that appraisal?  Is that

     MR. LOCKHART:  I'm not going to get into handicapping the comments of
those who aren't here.  They're free to make them.  You are free to report
them.  But their existential meaning on these talks are debatable.

     Q    Well, Joe, what about the people who are here?  Are they making

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think as I've said throughout the week, I'm not going
to try to provide a progress report.  I'll give you the bear minimum of
what the schedule is and let those who are in these sessions at Camp David
concentrate on the difficult issues that face them, and spending a minimum
amount of time worrying about what's getting written in the paper.

     Q    Joe, can you confirm that a second Israeli has joined the Israeli
team in negotiating --

     MR. LOCKHART:  I'll check on that.  I don't know.  I know that they're
still not at the number that --

     Q    -- Israeli sources have said a second so-called expert --

     MR. LOCKHART:  That's easy to check.

     Q    On the Emmitsburg talks, you said they broke into smaller groups
this morning.  Are those three-way smaller groups, or is it --

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think so, but we'll double-check whether there's an
American assigned to each of these groups.  I don't know that, but, again,
that's easy to check.

     Q    I know who the Palestinians are down in Emmitsburg, but I don't
know who the Israelis are in Emmitsburg.  Can you give me an idea of who
they are?

     MR. LOCKHART:  We'll get State to take a look and see if we can come
up with that list.

     Q    -- issue by issue of the groups?

     MR. LOCKHART:  They literally broke I think at 9:00 a.m. this morning
to get into the groups, so I don't know how they are defining their groups.
But we should be able to come up with that.  There's less of a veil of
secrecy on what they're doing, as opposed to what I am charged to talk

     Q    Joe, have you heard from the parties whether they would be
willing to stay after the President leaves?

     MR. LOCKHART:  As far as I'm aware, there hasn't been any discussion
of that.

     Q    Joe, is the President still planning to leave on Wednesday, and,
if so, what time on Wednesday?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I don't have a time, but the President has a schedule
in Tokyo and Okinawa of important G-8 responsibility.

     Q    Joe, back to the dinner meeting last night.  Would you say the
atmosphere was positive and that the atmosphere in the talks remained as
positive as they were in the beginning?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think they dinners have always had a positive feel to
them because of the inherent atmosphere and, you know, people coming
together for a meal.  I think in any negotiation that has now entered it's
fifth or sixth day, as you get to the hard issues -- I mentioned the other
day that these issues are difficult -- the atmosphere can be tense.  That's
certainly the case in any number of conversations and discussions as they
try to work through these.  So I don't want to create the false impression
that because they come together each evening for a meal in a positive
atmosphere that that permeates all the discussions.

     Q    -- or some progress up until the day they go, or do they work
separately on different issues, unconnected --

     MR. LOCKHART:  My sense is that there is not a lot of linkage between
what's going on at Camp David and the beginning of these discussions.

     Q    Joe, do you have any -- China and Pakistan, Iran.

     MR. LOCKHART:  I don't have very much on that.  I don't have any -- no
one has informed me that it came up in the context of the Camp David
discussions.  But it obviously underscores our concern about proliferation
in the region and proliferation overall, and demonstrates why we do so much
work in that field.

     Q    Can you explain what -- meaning of the talks taking place in
Emmitsburg?  Do you see that as an intensification?  Is it going to help
make things go faster back at Camp David?  And how do they supplement
what's going on --

     MR. LOCKHART:  Well, there are obviously issues that -- non-core
issues that the delegates at Emmitsburg on working on that are important to
get worked through.  But I think the difficult issues that those that are
at Camp David are trying to work through are, in the sense of these
discussions, separate and apart.  I mean, eventually, these will all have
to be decided.  So I would warn against trying to read too much into what's
going on in Emmitsburg.

     Q    Are the delegates satisfied with -- some of these reports out of
-- some are a violation of that?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Listen, there has been -- I think the substance of
what's been going on has generally been kept in
Camp David.  There's a lot of people talking; a lot of them don't know what
they're talking about.  Only time will tell who does and who doesn't.

     I'll give you one real-time example of the unfortunate person who had
to field the phone calls last night, who, within 15 minutes received a
phone call from one distinguished news organization saying a particular
delegation had just reported that talks had broken down, or were breaking
down and going very badly, and then got a phone call 15 minutes later from
another distinguished news organization citing the same delegation sources
as saying they were close to a breakthrough.  So it's entertaining.

     Q    Joe, could you give us a little bit on the President's other
activity?  For one thing, presumably, he still has Okinawa.  Is he getting
a chance to prepare, is he reading up on the economic issues?  Is there
anything you can tell about what he did after the talks last night -- did
he watch the White Sox game, did he --

     MR. LOCKHART:  I don't know after they broke.  Obviously, the
President's daughter is still here, so in the break times he's getting a
chance to spend some time with her.  That is particularly when they break
for the evening.

     As far as Okinawa, the President is getting his daily foreign policy
briefing every morning, he's spending time with his Chief of Staff every
day.  I suspect that given the pressure of these talks at Camp David that a
lot of the preparation we'll do for Okinawa will be on that very long plane
journey, as far as him getting caught up on his reading.  And we'll
probably do our trip briefing on the plane.

     Q    Joe, time is running short now.  Is there any sense of greater
intensity about these talks?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think everyone understands the calendar.  Everybody
understands what the issues are and what the schedule is.  So I think they
understand that an intense effort is needed.

     Q    Joe, if the President leaves to Okinawa, is there a possibility
of the negotiation going on under the auspices of Madeleine Albright or --

     MR. LOCKHART:  That is a question that would involve speculation,
which I'm not going to engage in.

     Q    Joe, can you say that the Chairman -- over the last few days in
part of the discussions that they've  --

     MR. LOCKHART:  It's not been reported to me that that's been
specifically mentioned, but obviously it underscores -- I would think all
sides believe that an agreement needs to be reached, and an agreement is in
the interest of all sides.

     Q    Are the negotiators still divided into certain groups, into
different groups, each group working on a certain, on one different core

     MR. LOCKHART:  Yes.

     Q    They are.

     MR. LOCKHART:  Yes.

     Q    What happens -- if the President does go to Japan, what happens
to the delegations?  Will they stay?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Well, again, that's very similar to the speculative
question that I got over here, which I didn't answer, so I won't answer

     Q    Would you confirm that the U.S. has already presented its
bridging proposals?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I am not going to get into any discussion, as that goes
to substance, but -- actually I think I'll stop there.  (Laughter.)

     Q    You said the groups, they're divided up according to issues now.
Are those issues then Jerusalem, borders, refugees?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Without giving you names of the groups or attendees to
each group, they are roughly according to the well-known core issues.

     Q    So three, four, or --

     MR. LOCKHART:  I'm not going to get into numbers.

     Q    If and when an agreement is reached here, or at a future date,
does the White House want to have a signing ceremony at the White House?

     MR. LOCKHART:  What do you think, a signing ceremony?  Well, listen,
that is in the category of things, problems that people who work on that
sort of thing would love to have, but no one is focused on that at this

     Q    Can you confirm the Post report today about the price tag for the
deal from Congress?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Well, I don't know that there is a specific price tag
that anyone with an authoritative voice has used.  Those with not
authoritative voices are free to speculate.  I have said all along that the
U.S. government has traditionally tried to find a way to play a
constructive role in these peace agreements.  Should that be necessary
here, we would look to do that.  The President has consulted Congress
throughout this process, and as appropriate, will consult more closely,
should some sort of package need to be put together.

     Q    -- by both presidential candidates yesterday.  Has the Vice
President been speaking with President Clinton on -- is he being briefed
about what's going on?

     MR. LOCKHART:  He's certainly, through his own national security team,
can get briefed on the overall situation here.  The only time that I know
they spoke this week is, the President talked to him the night that the
Vice President spoke at the NAACP, which was in preparation of the
President speaking to the NAACP.  The only thing that I talked to the
President about, about that conversation was the speech.  So whether they
talked in general or specifically about what was going on up here, I don't
really know.

     Q    Joe, can you confirm that United Nations resolutions, such as
242, 338 and 194 to secure the cornerstone for policy in the Middle East
peace process?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Let's get an agreement first, P.J. says.

     Q    Joe, this week, about 400 presidential scholars from 35 countries
are meeting on war and peace at Georgetown University.

     MR. LOCKHART:  Very good university.

     Q    -- and the President was going to meet them at the White House,
but it was cancelled because of this, I believe. There are those in the
peace process here because -- Palestine and Israel --

     MR. LOCKHART:  Well, on a personal note, the President was actually
quite concerned and was trying to find some time to reach out to the people
-- a number of groups that he had to cancel over the last week.  But I
think it's quite important in many different senses that a positive
atmosphere and an atmosphere conducive to reach an agreement be reached,
and I think all parties here are appreciative of those who endeavor in that

     That's a good last question.

     Q    What time this afternoon?

     MR. LOCKHART:  At 4:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m.

                         END        11:10 A.M. EDT

President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House | White House for Kids
White House History | White House Tours | Help
Privacy Statement


Site Map

Graphic Version

T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E