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Press Briefing by Mike McCurry

March 08, 1996

Aboard Air Force One

En Route to California

MR. MCCURRY: Egyptian President Mubarak and President Clinton have issued invitations to regional and international leaders to join them in Sharm al Sheik, Egypt, next Wednesday, March 13th, for a summit of the peacemakers. This summit will discuss ways to enhance Arab-Israeli peace, to promote security and to combat terror.

President Yeltsin will be attending the summit in his capacity as cosponsor of the Madrid Peace Process. I'll also tell you, we expect now attendance by not only President Mubarak and President Clinton, but also Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, King Hussein, French President Jacques Chirac; we also expect Prime Minister Gonzalez of Spain, Prime Minister Dini of Italy to attend. They have all confirmed attendance so far.

During the course of today, we expect a variety of governments both in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world that we have corresponded with overnight to begin making their own announcements about their representation and their level of attendance.

As to a variety of Arab countries in the region, we expect high-level attendance by many of them, but we'll be leaving it to individual capitals to make those announcements.

Q: Have you heard from Syria?

MR. MCCURRY: We have not. We have had contact with the government of Syria to extend them an invitation, but the government of Syria will have to make any announcement on their own about their level of attendance, if any.

Q: So is the United States a cohost or a cosponsor?

MR. MCCURRY: We are -- that's a good question. We are jointly hosting with the Egyptians this summit, but the Middle East peace process has always been an effort in which the United States and the Russian Federation together works. President Yeltsin will be there in his capacity as cosponsor of the process itself. We see this as an integral element of the peace process, not only reaffirming the importance of the changes that are occurring in the region, but also redoubling our efforts at this time to fight terror.

Q: But the formal invitations are coming from Egypt, or from Egypt and the U.S.?

MR. MCCURRY: Formal invitations are being jointly extended by President Mubarak and President Clinton.

Q: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCCURRY: We expect that this will be a day of reaffirmation both for the peace process and for the need to do everything governments can do in the international community to combat outlandish terror. And we expect coming out of this session will be some specific ideas on how to further those aims, but, more importantly, for the people of Israel, a strong statement by the international community that we stand with them in the protection and defense of their security.

Q: Will there be any of that on camera later on?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll do either that or do whatever anyone else needs.

Q: And what about the President's visit to Israel?

MR. MCCURRY: The President -- I'll also on my own confirm that the President will be going to Jerusalem for meetings with Israeli leaders. He'll also have some public events in Jerusalem. I can't discuss what his itinerary is or what his plans are with respect to any overnight stay. I can't tell you how long he will stay.

Q: Why's that -- security reasons?

MR. MCCURRY: It's mostly because it hasn't been finalized at this point. We're still having discussions about what the exact itinerary will be.

Q: And the stated purpose of going to Israel?

MR. MCCURRY: It's, one, for the President to express condolences to the people of Israel for the tragic losses they've suffered as a result of these terrorist incidents; but also, more importantly, for him to express his confidence that the pathway to peace is the antidote to terror and that the peace process itself can survive those enemies of peace who are attempting to destroy it.

Q: One last question. What message should Hamas and other terrorist groups takes from this summit?

MR. MCCURRY: They should know they are now isolated in the international community, that these leaders are gathering to express their opposition to terror, but also to suggest that those who sponsor terror and use it as a tactic live outside the community of civilized nations.

Q: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCCURRY: I guess Pat Buchanan is getting to him. (Laughter.)

Q: Okay. Thank you, Mike.


William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Mike McCurry Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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