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Remarks on Departure for the Middle East

October 25, 1994

Good morning. Today I embark on a mission inspired by a dream of peace, a dream as ancient as the peoples I will visit, a dream that now, after years of struggle, has a new chance of becoming a reality.

Tomorrow, in the desert between Israel and Jordan, two neighbors will agree to lay to rest age-old animosities and give a new future to their countries and their children. King Hussein and Prime Minister Rabin will enter into an historic peace treaty. By their courage, they help their peoples, their region, and the entire world. They help to begin a final journey to peace in one of the most perilous conflicts of our age. By taking part in that ceremony, I will help to fulfill a mission pursued vigorously by the United States, by Presidents of both parties, since the end of World War II.

Peace in the Middle East is in our fundamental interests, and our continued participation in the peace process is crucial to its success. The signing ceremony I will witness grows out of the peace process we have helped to build.

The treaty between Israel and Jordan will be only the second full peace treaty between Israel and one of its Arab neighbors and the first ever signed in the Middle East itself. The roots of this process reach back to the Camp David accords between the late Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel, in which President Carter played such a pivotal role, and to the historic peace treaty they signed here 15 years ago.

But this trip is more than a celebration of another important step toward peace, it's an opportunity to pursue new steps. Israel and Jordan have shown that contact can overcome conflict and that direct talks can produce peace. My goal is to make clear that the time has arrived for all parties to follow the brave and hopeful inspiration of Israel and Jordan. With so much at stake, it is more important than ever for the United States to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who are taking risks for peace.

For all the progress toward peace, indeed, because of that progress, we have witnessed a new wave of terrorism and violence. No step on this long journey requires more patience, more discipline, more courage than the steps still to come. At this crucial moment, the people of the Middle East stand at a crossroads. In one direction lies the dark past of violence, terrorism, and insecurity that desperate enemies of peace seek to prolong. In the other lies a brighter future, a brighter future that Israel and all her Arab neighbors can achieve if they have the courage to stand up to violence, to terrorism, to mistrust, to build that future.

Above all else, I go to the Middle East to deliver one clear message: The United States stands by those who, in the words of the Psalms, "seek peace and pursue it." And we stand up to those who threaten to destroy the dream that has brought us to this historic moment.

Standing up for peace in this region includes countering the aggressive acts of Iraq's toward its neighbors. Like our troops around the world, the men and women of our Armed Forces stationed in Kuwait are the strength behind our pledge to support peace and security. They are doing a magnificent job, and I want them to know how proud all Americans are of their efforts. When I visit them on Friday, I know I'll carry the good wishes of all their fellow Americans, just as I know all Americans will pray this week for the progress toward peace as we witness this historic treaty and carry the peace process forward.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 7:42 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on Departure for the Middle East Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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