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Remarks on the Death of King Hassan II of Morocco and an Exchange With Reporters in Aspen

July 24, 1999

The President. Let me again offer my condolences to the family of His Majesty King Hassan of Morocco and to the people of Morocco. As all of you know, Hillary and I are going to the funeral. His Majesty was a friend of the United States for a very long time and a friend of the Middle East peace process. He also worked very hard to reconcile the differences among the Moroccan people, within Morocco, and therefore, to set an example of the kind of thing that all of us should be doing and certainly there should be more of in the Middle East.

He was particularly gracious to Hillary and other members of our family. And after she went to see him recently, Morocco once again manifested its friendship to the United States by standing with us on human rights issues in ways that had not been the case before.

So I feel very, very grateful that the United States had a partner and friend like King Hassan, and I considered him a personal friend. And I am grateful for the many kindnesses he extended to me and to our family. And so I'm looking forward to going to Morocco for the funeral and to seeing the new King. I talked with him on the phone; I wished him well. We had met before, and I have high hopes for our continuing successful endeavors for both his partners and for the peace process.

President Hafiz al-Asad of Syria

Q. Do you expect to meet with King Asad while you're there?

The President. With President Asad from Syria?

Q. President Asad, yes, I'm sorry.

The President. No, it's okay. I don't know yet whether he is coming; I don't know who all is coming. But I will be on the ground for a few hours, as all of you know. We'll have to stay, I think, 5 hours after the service is over, and so I'll have an opportunity to see a number of people, and I'll do what I can to make the best use of the time. And as soon as I know with whom I'll be meeting, I'll let you know. I just don't know yet.

Morocco and the Middle East Peace Process

Q. Is this part of a changing of the guard, sir, in the Middle East, between King Hussein and the elections?

The President. Well, there is some change. You know, some of it is the rhythm of politics, and some of it is the rhythm of life. King Hussein and King Hassan both had health problems and had had long and distinguished tenures. And that happens, you know. Everybody's time runs out. Mine does, too.

But I think the important thing is that Morocco has been a model of reconciliation within the country and a model of partnership and friendship for peace in the Middle East. And I think that direction will continue. That's the really important thing for me, that this change be a positive thing for the people of Morocco and for the people of the region. And I'm going to do everything I can to be a good friend to the new King and to the country.

Press Secretary Joe Lockhart. Thank you very much.

The President. Thank you.

Michael Jordan

Q. Who told you you were Michael Jordan?

The President. One of my Republican friends was being crude. That's what I said to him. I said no one in their right mind could compare me to Michael Jordan. Well, he said, "I meant it only in the political context." [Laughter] I said, "I can't jump 4 inches. I have a vertical jump of about 4 inches."

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:10 p.m. at a private residence. In his remarks, he referred to King Mohammed VI, successor to King Hassan II; and former NBA Chicago Bull Michael Jordan. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on the Death of King Hassan II of Morocco and an Exchange With Reporters in Aspen Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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