Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt
Q. Mr. President, all these reports are coming out of Haiti that there could be a breakthrough in the process that would bring Aristide back in. Is that optimism justified?
President Clinton. Well, there's been some movement over the weekend. I've learned in dealing with Haiti not to be optimistic ever. But there has been some movement, and it's hopeful, and we'll keep working on it.
Let me also say, President Mubarak and I will have statements to make and will answer questions later, but I'm glad to welcome him back to Washington to congratulate him on his election. And this is the first opportunity I've had face to face to thank him for the critical role that he has played in the Middle East peace process. We're looking forward to having a good discussion about that, and we'll have more to say about it later.
Q. Mr. President, over the weekend, Bob Dole said that returning Aristide to Haiti is not worth a single American life. What's your response?
President Clinton. Well, my response is that our policy is to attempt to restore democracy in Haiti, that we are doing it in the way that we think is best and that is supported by Aristide and Prime Minister Malval. We have our ships there, and you know what we're doing. And they've never asked us to run the country for them. They've asked us to help the democratic process to be restored. We hope it can be done. The United States has an interest in that, avoiding large-scale outpourings of refugees, making sure the country is not a conduit for drug deliveries to this country, and promoting democracy in our hemisphere. And we're pursuing that policy.
Q. President Mubarak, can we ask about your feelings about Israel's releasing these Palestinian prisoners today?
President Mubarak. I think it's a very good act. And we have discussed this before with Prime Minister Rabin. And the man really— [inaudible]—in doing as far as he could to restore peace and reach a comprehensive settlement to the problem. It's a very good step forward.
Q. Mr. President, your feelings?
President Clinton. I agree. I'm very pleased. He should come every day. I can say I agree— [laughter]—shorten my answer.
[At this point, one group of reporters left the room, and another group entered.]
Invitation to Egypt
Q. Can I ask a question, Mr. President? When are you going to come and visit Egypt? [Inaudible]—invitation from me.
President Clinton. I think President Mubarak will have to invite me.
Discussions with President Mubarak
Q. President Clinton, which is the topic you wish to discuss with President Mubarak?
President Clinton. We have many things to discuss. I want to discuss how we can continue to work together on a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. And I want to ask President Mubarak's advice on a whole range of foreign policy issues. I want to be able to thank him personally for the absolutely indispensable role that he has played in the peace process in the Middle East so far. I don't think we would be where we are today if it weren't for President Mubarak. And we'll have our conversation, and then I'll answer your questions afterward. And I'll try to make sure you get equal time with the American press.
Q. Is Somalia on the topic of your talks with President Mubarak?
President Clinton. Oh yes, I expect to discuss Somalia, yes.
NOTE: The exchange began at 11:09 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.
William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/219811