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STATE DEPTMENT NOON BRIEFINGMiddle East Peace Talks
October 16, 1998
State Department Spokesman James Rubin briefed.
MIDDLE EAST PEACE TALKS -- State Department Spokesman James Rubin briefed reporters at the Wye River Conference Center in eastern Maryland, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat are meeting in an attempt to break the current stalemate in the Middle East Peace talks.
Rubin said a number of committees dealing with interim agreement issues -- security, economic issues, an airport in Gaza and setting up a safe passage for Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank -- would work through the day and report the results of their deliberations to the leaders and Secretary of State Albright at about 4 p.m. October 16.
The US objective, Rubin said, "is to work through the interim issues by Sunday (October 18) in order to move directly to the permanent status talks.
"We do believe the pace of the work, the seriousness of the work, the pragmatism that the delegations are bringing to bear, the constructive approach is there," Rubin observed of the day's activities so far. "Whether that will be enough is still an open question."
The spokesman said that the Wye River Conference Center, located in a bucolic part of Maryland about 110 kilometers east of Washington D.C. on the far side of the Chesapeake Bay, was chosen in an effort to bring the Israeli and Palestinian leaders together in an informal, relaxed setting. Netanhayu and Arafat have not spoken face-to-face for some 19 months.