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Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With King Abdullah II of Jordan

June 06, 2000

Middle East Peace Process

Q. Mr. President, are you encouraged that the talks will be moving back to Washington now, sir?

President Clinton. Yes. And Secretary Albright, I think, has had a good trip out there. I mean, we're working at it, and I'm encouraged. You know it's not going to be easy, but I'm encouraged.

I would like to say a special word of thanks to His Majesty for the commitment he's shown to peace and also to reform within his own country and rebuilding the economy of Jordan. I have enormous respect for his leadership and great gratitude for the strength of our partnership, which he has continued. So I am delighted that he is here. And he's coming at a good time. We have a lot to discuss today.

Jordan-U.S. Free Trade Agreement

Q. Mr. President, will you announce a free trade agreement with Jordan or the beginning of negotiations towards that end?

President Clinton. I think we'll have a good announcement on the trade issue, and I think it's important. I'm excited about—we have to discuss it, and we want to make sure that we're clear and in agreement on all the essential points. I think we are, and I'm encouraged. I think it's a very good thing to do.

Middle East Peace Process

Q. Mr. President, what's the outlook for a Camp David-style summit?

President Clinton. Well, I want to wait until Secretary Albright gets back. As you know, I saw Prime Minister Barak when I was in Europe, and I'm going to see Mr. Arafat, Chairman Arafat—I think about a week from tomorrow, something like that—soon, anyway. And of course, His Majesty and I are going to talk today. So after that, we'll make some decisions about what to do next.

But you know, we're down now to the difficult issues and to the difficult decisions. And those of us who are not charged with making them but are charged with helping them get made just have to try to create the best possible environment. I'll do whatever I can. I have for over 7 years, and I'll continue to do that.

Q. Your Majesty, do you foresee any possibility for resuming talks between Israel and Syria?

King Abdullah II. Well, we have a series of discussions about the peace process in the next half an hour, so we'll see what comes out of that.

Q. Your Majesty, would you say that both parties, both the Palestinians and the Israelis, need to maybe limit their expectations in these talks? There's a lot of talk now on the Palestinian side; people are recommending to the Palestinians to go for it all and get everything, 100 percent, the same way that Lebanon did.

King Abdullah II. There are healthy discussions between President Arafat and the Prime Minister, and we have to give them the benefit of the doubt and see what unfolds in the next week or so.

Q. But do you expect either side to get everything they want, or will—would you suggest that maybe the Palestinians will only get 90 percent, or 90-something percent, of the West Bank? Or do you expect them to get everything?

King Abdullah II. Well, I've been told by an old friend of mine that the best solution is one that both sides are a bit unhappy with, which means that both sides have had to give up something. And I think that when we look at final status, both sides have to be very openminded about the other people's positions.

Q. Mr. President, Jordan will face several challenges from final status peace talks, including refugees and water. Will the U.S. offer support—financial, moral support, et cetera—towards us?

President Clinton. Well, I think to have any kind of complete agreement on this, there has to be a provision made for dealing with the refugee problems, including some sort of fund, international fund, which would deal with the financial burdens of the displaced refugees everywhere, including Jordan. That's what I'm in favor of.

Thank you.

NOTE: The exchange began at 10:40 a.m. in the Colonnade at the White House. In his remarks, the President referred to Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel and Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Authority. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With King Abdullah II of Jordan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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