Press Briefing by Joe Lockhart from Camp David (7/17/00 - afternoon)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                          (Camp David, Maryland)

Immediate Release                             July 17, 2000

                              PRESS BRIEFING
                               JOE LOCKHART

                        Thurmont Elementary School
                            Thurmont, Maryland

4:05 P.M. EDT

     MR. LOCKHART:  Good afternoon.  In lieu of a briefing book, this is
what they gave me today, so don't expect much.  (Laughter.)  All right.
Let me bring you up to date since we last spoke, which was just a few short
hours ago.

     The President completed his bilateral with Prime Minister Barak; met
with his team for a short time.  As we speak, right now he is meeting with
his team in anticipation of a bilateral with Chairman Arafat.  The report
from Emmitsburg is the meetings continue in a serious and intensive way.

     Q    Can I get you a bigger piece of paper?  (laughter.)

     Q    Joe, the teams continue to meet, the teams all continue to meet?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Yes.  Both in Emmitsburg and Camp David, there are a
variety of meetings going on, short of the leader level.  They're still
going through the issues.

     Q    Can you say how long the Barak meeting was?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I don't have an exact time.  I know it began shortly
after I was up here the last time, but I didn't get a time when it broke.

     Q    (Inaudible.)

     MR. LOCKHART:  I'll let you know what happens.

     Q    Do you expect an all-nighter again tonight on the negotiator

     MR. LOCKHART:  If the last couple nights are any indication, I do
expect them to go late into the evening.

     Q    Two days ago you said that they are working in groups by issues.
Still the same thing, groups?

     MR. LOCKHART:  They're working in a variety of format, including in
groups divided by issue, yes.

     Q    Can you say that delegations are going to continue here after the
President leaves?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I expect that when the President leaves, the parties
will have wrapped up their business.

     Q    Joe, is there any way that you can expand a little bit on your
rather sparse description of the meetings today?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I can go through what I've gone through over the last
couple of days, if that's helpful.  They're discussing the core issues, the
very difficult issues that go to their --

     Q    Is there anything different?  Is there any change in the
atmosphere or the tone, or are they exactly the same as --

     MR. LOCKHART:  I don't think it's exactly the same.  I mean, I think
as you get -- I think that the parties understand the schedule here.  They
understand that they're working toward that.  So as I said earlier today, I
think the pace and the intensity have both quickened.

     Q    Joe, would you talk some more about experts that have come in.
Have there been any experts coming in today?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Over the last few days there have been some experts,
but I'm not going to detail who they are on each side, and what they were
there for.

     Q    Okay, so short of getting into that side of it, how about any
other color from what's going on in terms of dinners, golf carts, bowling

     MR. LOCKHART:  Well, without mentioning his name, there is a senior
American diplomat who wiped out on his bicycle earlier today.  He is fine.
But we don't want to embarrass him.  But when the cameras are turned off,
I'll tell you who he is.  (Laughter.)

     Q    Does he wear glasses, Joe?  (Laughter.)

     Q    Joe, when you said, I expect when the President leaves the
parties will have wrapped up their business, does that mean that you are
now imposing a deadline -- the President's departure means end the talks?

     MR. LOCKHART:  No, I said, I expect.  The plan was they would met, and
the President would leave.  I don't have anything more than if you'd asked
me that question seven days ago.

     Q    Joe, have the Palestinians told you that they intend to break to
go to a wedding of Abu Mazen's son, on Thursday in Ramallah?

     MR. LOCKHART:  No, I don't think -- my understanding is that I expect
that he will attend.  I didn't know it was Thursday, I just knew he had to
leave by Wednesday, which is the day the President has to leave.

     Q    Can I ask you about Wednesday?  You said this morning that
sometime tomorrow the President will decide to stick to the schedule on
Japan.  When tomorrow will he make the final decision about traveling to

     MR. LOCKHART:  If I said that, I don't know what I was talking about,
which is not new.  But the President's schedule is the schedule, and he's
not going to make a decision at some point tomorrow whether he sticks to
the schedule or not.

     Q    -- but you did say this morning that the final decision of the
schedule will be made sometime tomorrow.

     MR. LOCKHART:  I don't think so.  The President -- you'll know that
we're following through on the schedule when you see the President walk up
to the top of the steps and wave and the door close.

     Q    Wednesday morning at 9:45 a.m.?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Yes, tomorrow morning -- oh, sorry, Wednesday morning.

     Q    -- and if you keep insisting you're going to wrap up the talks --
the possibility --

     MR. LOCKHART:  If I was in the business of speculating about all the
possibilities in the world, I would take that question.  I'm not, so I

     Q    Is there a possibility for another summit, if they don't wrap up?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think that falls in the same category as the previous

     Q    Joe, can you cite a couple or three things about the Okinawa
meeting that's of great significance that requires the President?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think the work the G-8 does is extraordinarily
important to keeping the economic expansion that the world has enjoyed,
particularly in this country, going.  There's a number of particular things
that will be on the agenda this year, as far as debt relief, how the world
is dealing with AIDS crisis and infectious diseases as a whole, and a
number of well-known issues.

     Q    And he'll see Putin.

     MR. LOCKHART:  He'll have a number of bilaterals, yes, including the
Russian President, the Japanese Premier, and the British Prime Minister.

     Q    Joe, there was a rally yesterday in Tel Aviv.  Can you tell us
how Prime Minister Barak kept apprised of that and what impact, if any,
it's had on the atmosphere of the talks?

     MR. LOCKHART:  There's no one who reported to me any change in the
atmospherics, and besides being able to read the paper, I don't know what
other source of information he has from home.

     Q    Are they getting papers up there every morning?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Yes, sure.  I mean, there are the --

     Q    Are they getting the Israeli press --

     MR. LOCKHART:  That I don't know.  I know that the U.S. papers are
widely available at Camp.

     Q    What about television?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Television is on and there are 60 to 70 channels

     Q    Joe, on a different subject, but one you touched on about the G-8
summit -- AIDS is a national security issue, -- earlier with Ambassador
Boucher, but Ambassador Holbrooke -- a resolution in the Security Council
-- with AIDS and peacekeeping troops, trying to set it up so that
peacekeeping troops would be better educated and informed about AIDS.
Where is the administration going in terms of this policy, given that the
Republicans have already criticized --

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think that's an important, but only one part, of an
overall effort.  I think there was some skepticism and some partisan
comments made when a story was written recently about looking at AIDS as a
national security issue.  I think the recent AIDS conference and the
stories that have been done out of that validate the approach the U.S. is

     When you look at African countries and all the work we've done to try
to promote stability and democracy on that continent, and you look at the
staggering numbers involving their population as a whole -- their military,
in particular -- you can't help but understand the destabilizing factors
that may come into play.

     So this is an important issue.  And we have, I think in the last year,
doubled our international AIDS budget.  We need to do more; we're going to
do more.  And that's one of many important issues that we'll discuss at

     Q    When he goes to the G-8, will he be talking to any of the other
nations about funding for --

     MR. LOCKHART:  You know, I think that it will be a good opportunity
for the President to talk about the international community's ability and
responsibility to help with this process.  So, obviously, as we said before
this started, having some sort of agreement in place, this is a perfect
scheduling coincidence as far as the President being able to sit with world
leaders and make the case for this.

     Q    Why is it more important the President goes to the G-8 than stays
on here with the two leaders as they --

     MR. LOCKHART:  I don't think we look at this and try to rank things in
terms of importance, one versus the other.  The President has a number of
international responsibilities, many of which are done in the context of
G-8.  I think we made clear at the beginning of this process what the
schedule was.  We knew that the issues were well-known.  It's certainly our
hope that the parties can come together and work through these difficult
issues before the President needs to leave.

     Q    Saudi Arabia's -- today issued a statement -- supporting
President Arafat's effort in regaining the Arab and Muslim rights in
Jerusalem.  How do you see that statement helping or hurting the talks, and
has President Clinton solicited support from regional leaders?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think the President, in the past, has talked
extensively with regional leaders about their important role they can play,
not only in creating a positive atmosphere, but also in helping to
articulate the reasons that a peace agreement is good for everyone in the
region.  I expect he'll continue to do that in the future.

     As far as that statement goes, I don't know that it has any particular
impact on the talks, but I think it's important that regional leaders who
have a stake in this work positively to create a positive atmosphere.

     Q    Can you give a statement whether the news blackout has served its
purpose in enhancing the prospects of a deal being reached?

     MR. LOCKHART:  This is my personal assessment, but I think that it has
worked, and I think it's worked because the leaders -- the delegations have
spent the vast majority of their time dealing with the issues in front of
them, the core issues that separate them, and not dealing for three or four
hours a day, with negative stories or positive stories, or stories they
didn't like, or stories they thought were wrong, that were in the paper
every morning.  There has been very little discussion up there that has to
do with how this is being covered, and with the vast majority of the
discussions focused on the issues.  That's what is was designed to do, and
I think it's worked.

     Q    So you're not at all frustrated at the fact that you have to come
and get up here twice a day and basically say nothing to us?  (Laughter.)

     MR. LOCKHART:  This isn't nothing.  There's a lot on this little piece
of paper.  (Laughter.)

     Q    You said the other day that most -- a lot of these reports were
not well-founded.  Do they spend 15 minutes a day talking about reports in
the press or --

     MR. LOCKHART:  Listen, my assessment of it is that -- I can't quantify
it, but there's very little discussion of the, as compared to some other
sessions that I've been involved in, where there's been a lot of discussion
about this thing that was in the paper, or what this anonymous official
said, or what that anonymous official said.  I can't really quantify it,
but it has not in any way functionally or qualitatively impacted the

     Q    Would you be prepared to alter the pre-summit warning that if
these talks don't succeed, the area will slip into hostility -- given the
fact that they have talked the issues out for seven days, do you suppose
that will have a beneficial effect, whether or not there's an agreement?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think it's hard to say.  I think the words that the
President used at the beginning of this process, the day before they talked
and the morning, were chosen very carefully and I think still apply.

     Q    Are you ruling out the possibility of any talks at any level
continuing at Camp David when the President --

     MR. LOCKHART:  What I'm ruling out is speculating on something that I
have no way of knowing.  What I know is that the President intends to get
on a plane Wednesday morning to go and fulfill his requirements as an
important leader in the G-8.

     Q    Is it safe to say that the Okinawa summit would make a good
justification to suspend the summit without calling it a failure if you
don't reach an agreement?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I don't think I'd ever do that.

     Q    It's been a week now.  How are they holding up physically?  I
assume they're -- you described their dinner,  they're getting enough to
eat, obviously.  Are they getting enough sleep, recreation, so on?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think there are a number of negotiators who have been
awake for a long time over the last two or three days.  I think it's
difficult coming continually back to the same issues with the same people.
That kind of environment is not always the best for the warm and fuzzies.
But I think they all know the work they have to do and they all understand
the opportunity that faces them right here, right now, and the results of
not being able to reach an agreement.  So I think they understand that and
they're all willing to do the work.

     Q    I know you don't want to talk about hypotheticals, but has there
been any discussion among the three leaders about what they will do if
Wednesday arrives and there's no agreement?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I'm not aware of any discussions.  The discussions that
I'm aware of focus on getting the work done in the time that's allowed to

     Q    How would you describe, wrapping up the business?  Is this
business framework agreements or interim -- I'd like to know your
definition of "the business."

     MR. LOCKHART:  Listen, I said at the beginning of this they were
looking for an agreement.  I'm going to stay there, and I'm not going to
try to dissect what that word means.

     Q    Thank you.

     MR. LOCKHART:  Thank you.

                           END                  4:15 P.M. EDT

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