Press Briefing by Richard Boucher on the Camp David Peace Talks (7/20/00)
                         U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                          Office of the Spokesman
                           (Thurmont, Maryland)

For Immediate Release                                   July 20, 2000

                             PRESS BRIEFING BY
                         SPOKESMAN RICHARD BOUCHER
                        THE CAMP DAVID PEACE TALKS
                        Thurmont Elementary School

5:05 P.M. EDT

     MR. BOUCHER:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Let me give you the five
o?clock update.  Camp David discussions continue between the parties on
core issues of permanent status.  The Secretary met during the course of
the afternoon separately with senior negotiators from both sides.  Shortly
after noon, she met with Chairman Arafat.  Later after that, she met with
Prime Minister Barak.

     Contacts between the parties continue on all the issues.  As I left,
the Secretary was meeting with her US negotiating team, looking at the next
set of activities, and we continue our efforts to move forward on the

     So with that brief update, I?d be glad to take your questions.

     Q    Richard, would it be productive in, what is it, the tenth day now
or the eleventh, for Barak and Arafat to sort of meet face to face, measure
the gap?

     MR. BOUCHER:  As you know, that?s happened.  When we think it would be
productive, when they think it would be productive, I?m sure we?ll do that
as well.  But at this stage, we?ve conducted the negotiations at each stage
in a way that we felt was the best way to move forward.

     Q    Have they set a schedule, a certain set of goals that they hope
to have accomplished before the President gets back?

     MR. BOUCHER:  I think we keep going towards the same goal, which is to
reach an agreement that deals with all the core issues.

     Q    Have they set a certain set of mileposts that they?d like to get

     MR. BOUCHER:  Well, I think there?s only one milepost that really
matters, and that?s the one that we?re still shooting for.

     Q    But certainly there?s got to be some on the way to your final

     MR. BOUCHER:  I think not three miles down this issue and four miles
down that issue.  But obviously we need to solve the issues and they need
to focus from time to time on what?s the best way to move forward.  So, to
that extent, yes, they try to move forward on different issues at different
moments.  But the overall effort is to move forward on all the issues and
to reach an agreement.

     Q    All along, you and the White House have had a very steady
accounting of the meetings of the President.  Can you tell us last night,
roughly, what time of night Clinton had his last meetings, bilateral, with
Barak and Arafat?  What time of night?  And do the same for Albright,
around the sort of post-9:00 p.m. period.  It gets very fuzzy looking at
the transcript as to what was going on with the leaders meeting around that

     MR. BOUCHER:  And anything I say can and will be used against me,
right?  (Laughter.)  Last night was a very hectic and involved process,
first of reaching the conclusion that we?d reached a conclusion to the
discussions, and then second of all seeing that in fact there was the
opportunity to move forward and that it was worth staying.

     I don't think I can go into any more detail than we have so far.  Joe
went through it with you last night in the middle of the night.   I went
through it again this morning with you as much as I can.  Suffice it to say
that the President was going back and forth and having discussions with the
different leaders.  The Secretary was having meetings with negotiators,
largely, on the side, sat down at times with one or the other team.  I know
she sat down with the Palestinian team at one point.  Negotiators were
talking to each other, negotiators were talking to us.

     So there were a great deal of conversations going on.  Once the
decision to conclude had been made, you might describe sort of the second
idea of continuing and possibly finding the value of continuing emerged
more starkly as an option that they wanted to take and the parties ? the
leaders together in their meetings, in their discussions, the President
with Chairman Arafat and the President with Prime Minister Barak -- agreed
that they wanted to stay.  And they wanted to stay.

     Q    There were bilaterals after the announcement that the talks were
ending?  There were ? Clinton was meeting?

     MR. BOUCHER:  Yes, the President was having meetings with the leaders
until a few minutes before we got in the motorcade to come down here.

     Q    I thought the way Joe described it was that the face-to-face
meetings weren?t going on at that point; that it evolved into phone calls.
Was it face-to-face meetings?

     MR. BOUCHER:  I would look back at Joe?s transcripts.  I think there
were both.

     Q    Does the Secretary have any plans tonight to meet Chairman
Arafat?  And, second question, when was the last time Arafat and Barak met
face to face over a meal or for talks?

     MR. BOUCHER:  I can?t remember.  You would have to go back to the
transcripts, the last sort of formal sit-down meal we had together where
they were together at the meal.  You know, that may happen again, it may
not.  I am not sure that it will happen at this evening?s meal; they were
still thinking about it, about what kind of meal to have.

     But people do get together at these meals, especially the negotiators,
and people talk.  And so there are a variety of conversations going on all
the time, so I wouldn?t read too much into a particular kind of meeting.

     Q    Have the parties given any indication of how long they are
willing or able to remain here after the President returns?

     MR. BOUCHER:  I don?t think we?re gaming that out at this point.  I?m
not sure we?ve asked them.

     At this stage, we are committed to unflagging efforts to use the
opportunity before us.  We are going to see where we are.  The President
will assess where we are when he comes back, and at that point he will make
the determination as far as where we go next.

     Q    Mr. Lockhart said it makes no sense for this process to carry on
indefinitely.  When the President returns, you?ll set another hard date to
say we have to have an agreement by this point?

     MR. BOUCHER:  I think when he comes back, the President will assess
where we are with the issues and determine where we should go next on the
issues and for how long.  But, obviously, we don?t think that unlimited
time should be spent on this.  It is a matter of making decisions and
working on the issues so that the decisions can be made.  And so that?s the
key component.

     Q    Exactly when is the President scheduled to arrive back in the
United States?

     MR. BOUCHER:  We don?t have that for you yet.  With the changes that
resulted from his delay in departing, the White House is still reworking
the schedule.

     Q    Will it be Sunday night?

     MR. BOUCHER:  You know, it?s only a guess, Sunday, Monday was.  But we
don?t have a new schedule yet from the White House.  We talked to them a
couple hours ago.

     Q    Richard, is the President expected to ask the G-7 nations to help
finance a possible peace deal?

     MR. BOUCHER:  I?m sure they?ll be interested in a general way in the
events here.  Obviously, we and others have stood up in support of peace
deals in the past and we would expect any support that was needed to be an
international effort.  I wouldn?t conclude from that, however, that there
would be a sign of specific planning going on.  But I would assume the
topic will arise in his discussions.

     Q    Following after that thought, the idea has been floated that what
happened last night may, in fact, work to the President?s advantage at the
G-8 summit to say, this is the price of failure, so it?s time for you all
to pony up to make this deal a reality.

     MR. BOUCHER:  I don?t want to game it that way.  I think in the end we
and our G-7 partners and others in the world have been quite forthcoming
when it comes to supporting peace in the Middle East.  We have certainly
done our part.  We think others have done a lot as well.  So to think that
we are somehow playing with them or shaming them into it I don't think is
necessary at this point.  But certainly the President is going to want to
talk to them about it.

     Q    There have been members of Congress who have said that actually
the United States is going ? is planning to shame them into making a
financial commitment by promising the Israelis and the Palestinians a
certain level of US support and then coming to Congress and saying, well,
if you don?t pony this up, you don?t support peace.

     Has the President been in touch with Congress on a specific level of
what he sees as a level of US support that will be necessary?

     MR. BOUCHER:  I think, as we said in the past, we?re not at that stage
yet and that what I?ve seen from various statements from leaders in
Congress is general support for the idea of supporting peace in the Middle
East.  People understand it?s important to our nation, as they have in the
past.  But we?re not at the stage yet, either here or in our previous
discussions, of asking them to support some specific proposal.

     Q    Can I just follow up, Richard?  There have been members of
Congress that say that the Administration is not taking into consideration
their concerns and they should be involved more in the process as the US
tries to negotiate this, not in terms of a diplomatic level between the two
parties but in terms of how the United States is prepared to help out.

     Do you think that?s warranted?

     MR. BOUCHER:  We consulted with members of congress along the way.
And, certainly, as you know, the President had a number of discussions
before we left.  The Secretary has discussed this issue in a general sense
in many of her contacts with congresspeople on the Hill in the last few
weeks leading up to this.  But we are not at the stage yet to get that
specific with them.

     Q    Can you say something about the mood of today?s session in light
of last night?s interesting events?  Was it a wakeup call or how are they
reacting today?

     MR. BOUCHER:  I think the wakeup call was a little later in the
morning.  I think people first wanted to get some sleep.  The delegations
have been meeting among themselves, you know, each leader with his own
delegation in some ways, preparing for the next few days? work, looking at
the events of last night and deciding how to move forward.  We wanted to
stay, they wanted to stay and now I think everybody is committed and
determined to making it worthwhile and producing some productive movement
during this period.

     Q    Richard, what contact does the Secretary have with the President
since he went?

     MR. BOUCHER:  I?m not aware of any specific discussions but I know
staffs have been in touch with each other.

     Q    Richard, one of the ways that appears to keep the blackout in
effect, for example the Vice President?s office is saying that while Leon?s
been in touch with people and getting updates, that they?re not getting a
lot of information and they?re getting more information sometimes from the
press than they are from White House officials.

     Not just for Vice President Gore, but is the White House trying to
limit the information given to Gore, Talbott, Pickering, Steinberg?  Are
you really trying to enforce the blackout by not only not consulting with
Congress but limiting the number of ?

     MR. BOUCHER:  Are you trying to find out how well informed your
sources are?  (Laughter.)  I would say that the people who deal most
specifically with this issue, with the exception of those who had to leave
on the President?s airplane yesterday, are all here.  Certainly the
information on exactly what?s going on up there is not widespread because,
frankly, there are not that many other people that need to deal with these
issues on a day-to-day basis.  That?s not to say ? you know, we?re
certainly not telling stories or lies or misinforming or somehow keeping in
the dark people who are not here.  But there is no particular reason to
keep them informed and therefore they?re not.

     Q    To follow up on that and what Elise was saying, not about the aid
package but about just calls to members of Congress, did the Secretary or
did the President call any congressional leaders, either late last night or
early this morning or today to give them an update since things have
changed quite a bit?

     MR. BOUCHER:  No.

     Q    Have the negotiations today been restricted to bilateral
American-Palestinian on one side or American-Israeli, without encounters
between the negotiators, Israelis and Palestinians?  And if it?s true, is
it consistent with reports that Prime Minister Barak instructed his
negotiators not to talk to the Palestinians until they answer their

     MR. BOUCHER:  I?m not going to deal with any specific reports but I
did mention to you earlier the discussions and contacts between the parties
directly on the various issues have continued.

     Q    What time did everything come to a halt last night and what time
did it start this morning?

     MR. BOUCHER:  Well, I?d have to look back.  The President?s departure
was 20 minutes before he arrived here.  So I don't know exactly the time of
the President?s departure.  He made his statement at 12:30, so shortly
after midnight he departed and then we got back up the hill.  I think there
were probably people still having conversations after the President
departed.  But the Secretary didn?t have any particular meetings when she
went back up.

     Q    And this morning?

     MR. BOUCHER:  This morning, we started to get together in our
individual team about 10 o?clock, and the first meetings occurred after

     Q    And how does that compare to other days this week?

     MR. BOUCHER:  Depending on the night, it might have closed off a
little bit earlier than some other nights and started a little bit later
than some other mornings.

     Q    With Barak and Arafat not meeting for days and with the US
meeting separately again and again with both sides, it seems inescapable
that we get the impression the US is pitching a plan or a set of
compromises to the two sides.  We?ve never established that, indeed, the US
is in the bridging game now.  I know there is little likelihood that we?ll
get answers to any of these questions.  But there was a little break
yesterday and a little burst of honesty when I guess it was Joe said that
the fact they decided to go on doesn?t mean that there was any ? you know,
the gap was closed in any way, it?s just they decided to keep at it.

     It?s the US that?s doing the pitching, isn?t it?  So I wonder if
that?s true.  I wonder if the US still would not try ? and this goes to
motive ? that the US would not try to sell either party a deal that they
don?t think is in their best interest.  And I wondered if anybody would get
so punchy that he might agree to something he wouldn?t have agreed to on
the first or the second day.

     You can discard all those questions if you like.  But that?s the
impression ?

     MR. BOUCHER:  I haven't found the question yet.

     Q    All right.  Is the US offering bridging proposals?  Is that the
point of their not meeting face to face, with the US doing all the
shuttling?  Secondly, is the US still given to the notion that it wouldn?t
want an agreement unless the two sides saw it in their own self-interest,
best interest?  And, three, is there a chance that just weariness will
convince them to take something they wouldn?t have taken in the bright
light of day?

     MR. BOUCHER:  Let?s go back to this.  On the issue of US bridging
proposals, I?m afraid I have nothing more to say than what I haven't said
on the subject in the past.  On the question of whether one of these people
would agree to something out of weariness, I would say that?s not our plan.
Certainly, we don?t think that any of these leaders is going to compromise
on an issue of vital importance to his people just because he?s tired.  We
have to get these issues and these decisions to the point where they do
serve the fundamental interests of the parties and where the parties feel
they can agree with them in order to get peace.  So I wouldn?t count on
anybody agreeing to anything just because he?s tired.

     And there was something in the middle there.  Oh, I know, bilateral
contacts.  We do report to you on what the President and the Secretary have
been doing in their meetings, kind of in more detail.  But remember, every
day we describe groups, discussions, contacts, meetings on the issues
between the parties themselves at different levels and in different
configurations -- sometimes larger groups, sometimes a couple people
talking somewhere.  There are a great deal of contacts and discussions
directly between the parties, sometimes with us, very frequently without
us, to deal in great seriousness and sometimes in great detail with these
issues.  So the issues are being discussed directly between the parties,
even if at the leadership level you might see more activity that?s going
between us and the parties themselves.

     Q    Is anybody being intractable on any particular issue?

     MR. BOUCHER:  That?s not something we get into.

     Q    The word ?intractable? was used here before.

     MR. BOUCHER:  I know, but not in that context.

     Q    Can I follow up on the weariness question?  I mean, certainly
you?ve said over the last few days that they?re exhausted, they?re
frustrated and now they?re deciding to continue.  And it seems as if an
extra few hours of sleep this morning isn?t enough to give them renewed
vigor to go on.  So how does the Secretary regroup them and retool them to
go forward and make progress?

     MR. BOUCHER:  Well, those of you who travel with the Secretary know
that unflagging vigor has not been a problem for her.  And I would say that
these are all people who know how to deal very well with protracted and
difficult issues and negotiations; and we have found it more frenzied or
hectic at different moments but there is a very serious effort being made,
there is a pace that continues.  The ability to deal with the issues and
create momentum on the substance is what?s really important and that?s what
we?re trying to do.

     Q    Yesterday, last night, when Joe was asked about the real reason
that made them stay here, he said one of the reasons was that they are
going to start looking at things from a different view.  So doesn?t this
lead us to believe that there are some bridging proposals from the United
States which, you know, made them stay?  You know, they thought about it
from a different view and that?s why they stayed?

     MR. BOUCHER:  I?m not going to lead you to any particular conclusion
on that.

     Q    Any outings planned, given that the weekend is coming up and
everybody is waiting for the President coming back?

     MR. BOUCHER:  First of all, no, I?m not aware of any outings planned
at this point.  If something happens, we?ll tell you.  And, second of all,
I don't think you?ll find anywhere in my description everybody waiting for
the President to come back.  Everybody  working hard in the President?s
absence is the way I?ve described it and that?s truly what?s going on.

     Q    Richard, is the State Department aware of any place in the world
where shared sovereignty has been a successful and constructive formula?

     MR. BOUCHER:  That?s a loaded question and I will refer you to
academics with it.

     Q    Were you informed from the leaders of any deadline for them to

     MR. BOUCHER:  I haven't really asked the question but I haven't heard
of any.

     Q    Are we going to get a late night sort of --

     MR. BOUCHER:  We can do an evening wrap-up for you, hopefully not too

     Q    The talks between ? direct talks, are they happening between the
two parties without your presence?

     MR. BOUCHER:  I said --

     Q    Yeah, today.

     MR. BOUCHER:  The parties have continued to have contacts and
discussions on the issues, yes, without us.

     Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 5:23 p.m.)

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