Return to the Wye River Talks Page!
TRANSCRIPT: US STILL HOPING FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE PACT(Rubin says there's still time to make tough decisions)
October 18, 1998
Wye Mills, Maryland -- On the afternoon of what was to be the final day of the latest round of Middle East peace talks, the Clinton Administration was still hoping for the Palestinian and Israeli sides to come to agreement on interim issues that would lead to permanent status talks.
Office of the Spokesman
(Wye Mills, Maryland)
For Immediate Release
October 18, 1998
Briefing by James P. Rubin, Spokesman
At Chesapeake College
The meeting with Foreign Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Mordechai lasted roughly 40 minutes or so. Vice President Gore left the meeting a little early and walked over to the luncheon location to meet the Prime Minister, and I believe the lunch should have started roughly about 2 o'clock. After that the President is expected to meet with Chairman Arafat, and beyond that I don't think anything has been firmed up. There has been at lower levels people have talked about different ideas, but no decisions whatsoever have been made about what meetings will take place after that.
Before trying to be as helpful as I can in answering your questions, let me say that I recall on Thursday when we had a very bright and sunny day and the leaders were talking about how the weather was certainly cooperating, one of the other leaders said, "But what's the forecast?" Well, it has now been four days and it has been four days of sunny weather. What that means I have no idea, other than it has been sunny.
QUESTION: Could you clarify did the President get to the luncheon?
MR. RUBIN: Yes. When I left, I left as the lunch began about 2 o'clock with Netanyahu and several of his top people and President Clinton, the Vice President, and several others.
QUESTION: Just, you know, Sunday is kind of a day when you hope to get all this stuff. You want to state that again, do you, that the hope still, the aim still, is to wrap this thing up by the end of the day?
MR. RUBIN: Our goal going into this meeting was to schedule out the time so that the work could be completed in the allotted time, and we don't want to speculate on what will happen if that doesn't happen. There is time to complete the work if the political will is there to make the tough decisions, and that is still true. I have heard -- well, let me stop there and wait till I hear the question formally.
QUESTION: I think last -- or several weeks ago at one of the gatherings -- I think it was New York at the UN but it's not so important -- we asked about drafting -- were the documents being drafted. And you said there wasn't much being drafted at some point. Is there drafting going on here?
MR. RUBIN: Let me say that we have no doubt that should the decisions be made that there will be a way to record those decisions in a satisfactory way -- and certainly pieces of paper exist in the hands of various delegations and others. But whether there is a formal memorandum to reflect these decisions if they are made, I am just not prepared to speculate at this time. But we'll find a way to record whatever agreement we can reach. That is not normally a problem.
QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about the tough decisions that you just referred to? What are they?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I think the categories haven't changed, and I am happy to repeat the categories. They include the interim issues, the security question, the Israeli withdrawal from land, and other matters that I have discussed in the past.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) in all the categories? Is that what you're saying?
MR. RUBIN: What I'm saying is that these are the categories that we came in to Wye needing to work on, that we had said coming in to Wye that there was substantial and significant progress made in the Secretary's trip, and that coming in to Wye here is what we are focusing on. I am not going to give you a characterization of what progress was made in what areas during the last three days.
QUESTION: Does the (inaudible) arrived this morning, does that make it difficult to finish the work today?
MR. RUBIN: No.
QUESTION: Yesterday you mentioned the possibility of a partial agreement.
MR. RUBIN: I didn't.
QUESTION: No, you said there were three possible outcomes -- an agreement, a partial agreement, I believe, and then no agreement.
MR. RUBIN: No, I said no such thing. If I did, I was mistaken. I don't recall saying it, and many of your colleagues are shaking their heads. But why don't you pose a question regardless of what I said.
QUESTION: That has gained currency in a lot of press reports today. Can you comment?
MR. RUBIN: What I can tell you is that I've seen a report about a 30-day or multi-week extension and that we have come here to do the work as per the schedule I have outlined for you. We are not going to speculate on what happens at the end of today with regard to tomorrow, but we have no plans for such a multi-week extension.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) lock in some progress today to -- and then defer to making progress in the other issues later?
MR. RUBIN: As I indicated, we have no plans to defer these issues for many weeks.
QUESTION: You said that, you know, you'll see whether they have the political will is there to make the decisions. Do the two sides have the same sense of urgency that you have? I mean, is the presence of Gore here designed to say, look, the whole White House is here, you guys have got to move? What is Gore's job in all of this, also?
MR. RUBIN: Well, there are a lot of American -- top Americans who focused on this issue who are here, and I think Vice President Gore has been an integral player in the discussions and the decisions on these issues for many, many years now. I think we do feel a sense of urgency. Going into this meeting we felt very strongly that in the absence of making these kind of agreements and putting the peace process back on track there were serious dangers ahead for the people of the Middle East. So certainly we feel very strongly that we want to -- we believe in a sense of urgency and we are trying to instill that in the parties. But I would not care to characterize how urgent they feel the situation is.
QUESTION: I mean, just to follow up, by saying you are trying to instill it, you mean it isn't quite there yet?
MR. RUBIN: Well, even when something is there that doesn't mean you wouldn't instill your views.
QUESTION: Before -- just on the eve of the conference, you used some carefully crafted language on the question of a third further withdrawal. What is the US position now on whether that should be included in this package if you get it?
MR. RUBIN: We have said, and I can repeat, that we recognize that even if we were to achieve agreement on this question, that that issue you mention is out there; and we are heading rapidly for May 4th when all the issues, not just the third phase you mentioned but all the issues -- Jerusalem, refugees, water, territory -- are part of the final status talks. And so we don't want a situation where the peace process gets derailed again on such a question, but beyond saying that I think it would be a mistake to be more specific given the sensitivity of the issue.
QUESTION: You didn't mention a scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Arafat. Are you expecting them to meet today? Can we expect that they would meet again today?
MR. RUBIN: I don't know the answer to that question. What I know is that the plan is to have a meeting with Chairman Arafat and the President and other members of his delegation later this afternoon after the lunch. Then I think people will take stock and try to determine what other form of meeting can help do the work that we want very much to do.
QUESTION: Before and during the Secretary's trip to the Middle East there was talk of locking in areas of agreement between the two sides. Are any of those areas that were locked in no longer locked in?
MR. RUBIN: No. I think we indicated at the time we left the Middle East that understandings had been reached on several issues, and I haven't heard them having been reopened.
QUESTION: I think it's following up on Tom's question. Are you saying that it would be acceptable to the US to have the third redeployment take place in final status as opposed to --
MR. RUBIN: It's a good question. I don't want to specify our view on this, other than to state our view that we don't want to be back in the same situation we are now vis-a-vis the second redeployment. In light of the fact that the time being that it's October and May is shrinking, so we know that this is an issue that is out there and we're trying to deal with it in order to avoid a situation where the process goes off track. But beyond saying that, I think anything I say could make it harder to reach the agreement that we want to reach.
QUESTION: Does it need to be resolved now?
MR. RUBIN: Again, saying what I just said, which is that we don't want it to cause the problems that it could cause, carries with it certain necessities. Beyond saying that large point, I just don't want to specify any further.
QUESTION: How does the arrival of Mordechai and Sharon change the dynamics in any way from the US perspective?
MR. RUBIN: Well, they are key members of the Prime Minister's cabinet and certainly we want to see whatever decisions are made have the support of key officials, and plus they have special expertise, certainly in the case of Defense Minister Mordechai over the question of security. So we hope that the fact that they are here, that we're working in an intensive and serious mode and we're obviously in the end game of the Wye efforts, that that will help.
QUESTION: I'm a little puzzled because your comments make clear that you are not at all certain that the political will exists for a deal. You have been in this intensive phase for several weeks now and a very intensive phase since Thursday, and it would seem to me that if the political will to come to a conclusion this weekend was there --
MR. RUBIN: We would know?
QUESTION: That you would -- yes, you would know that the political will was there. Not that there weren't still some important things to haggle over, but that at least the will was there.
MR. RUBIN: Well, I just respectfully disagree with the view that we would know this. We will know this when we see it.
QUESTION: I've got a related question, if I could.
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: I've got a related question, if I could, because it sort of follows the same. Regularly in the weeks and the months leading up to the summit, you and, I suppose, Albright and others have spoken of trust or distrust -- you know, we have had a sense of atmospherics. You aren't getting into details, clearly, but could you capsule what your handle is on whether these leaders are operating in some -- in fact, on the Albright trip she celebrated what she saw as a new spirit of cooperation. Would you have a swing at what kind of spirit is manifest here?
MR. RUBIN: I think celebrated might be a bit strong, but I think though I know that she was pleased.
QUESTION: She didn't light a cigar, did she?
MR. RUBIN: She doesn't smoke cigars. I don't think she lit anything.
The question of trust and confidence between the leaders is your question. Look, the proof of the change in -- from a situation where there is no trust and is no confidence, as has been evidenced by the last 19 months, will come in the eating of this process. And if I have muddled my metaphors totally, please forgive me. Let me try that again. They have met. They have met now several times. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat. There has been a lot of high level contact between their top aides. There has been a lot of discussion back and forth. Clearly, the stiffness and the difficulty of having such meetings and communicating to each other has evaporated. They are now meeting regularly. They are sitting not very far away. They are coming together with the Secretary, with the President, and discussing things in a serious way.
Whether those manifestations of trust and confidence yield changes in the manifestations on the ground of the lack of trust and confidence, whether we can get to a point where the expected agreements can be implemented, is very much an open question at this time.
QUESTION: A couple of questions. First off, when was the last time they met? Arafat and Netanyahu met together in the past two days?
MR. RUBIN: Yes. I believe on Friday they met in the morning. Today is Sunday. And Saturday, as you know -- yes, so they met on Friday.
QUESTION: But they haven't met the past two days?
MR. RUBIN: Right, but they met on Friday and they met several times before that.
QUESTION: Is the United States willing to accept anything less than a full agreement that at least covers the basic issues of security, the basic issues of withdrawal, and the interim issues? And are you willing to go into overtime beyond tonight to do so?
MR. RUBIN: The first question, we brought all the people, as one of your other colleagues indicated, at very high levels. We've brought them here to do the work that we think needs to be done, and that includes the Vice President and includes other senior officials. Obviously, Secretary Albright has been here throughout. It includes all the legal experts, all the substantive experts. So we have the capability and expertise here to do the work that we think needs to be done, and we don't want to speculate on what will happen if we have the time and we have the location and we have the expertise to get the work done. And so that is what we are trying to do and we don't want to speculate about what would happen with regard to tomorrow at this time.
QUESTION: Is anything less than full agreement basically covering these issues even if implementation may be delayed? Is anything less than a full agreement acceptable?
MR. RUBIN: I didn't answer that as best as I could?
QUESTION: I would submit maybe as best as you could.
MR. RUBIN: Best as you could. I think it was as best as I can do.
MR. RUBIN: I answered as best as I could.
QUESTION: As you said, the conference has been going on four days now. Are we closer to an agreement, reaching an agreement, from the first or the second day? And my second question, is it true that the CIA and the Americans will be happily involved in the security coordination between Israel and Arafat and Netanyahu?
MR. RUBIN: On the first question, I have seen reports characterizing no progress having occurred here, and let me say that I reject that characterization and say that important work has been done and continues to be done today.
With respect to the second question, I think I have indicated to all of you that security people and security experts are here. They are doing their work, and I can't characterize the progress they are making.
QUESTION: Are there any direct Israeli-Palestinian contacts at all in the lower level today?
MR. RUBIN: I do believe that since last night there have been such opportunities. I can't specify one in particular to you, but I would be surprised if there weren't some contact. I will have to check to get a firm answer for you.
QUESTION: Is it true that in the last meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat that Yasser Arafat walked out of the room before the meeting was over and that he did not leave until now -- till then?
MR. RUBIN: I think I would have heard about that. I've never heard such a thing.
QUESTION: Since you said this is the end game, is the question going to be put to the parties today, to the leaders today, asking them if they are prepared to make the necessary decisions and will you expect their answer by the end of today?
MR. RUBIN: I don't want to characterize what the President or the Secretary might say privately to one of the leaders.
QUESTION: This could be just a parenthesis, but do you have anything more to say about the arrest of General Pinochet?
MR. RUBIN: No.
QUESTION: I mean, the United States has no comment on this arrest?
MR. RUBIN: It's not right.
QUESTION: You said you had nothing to say really yesterday and you wanted to check, and you have now checked and the United States has nothing to say?
MR. RUBIN: I think we think this is a matter between legal authorities of the various countries.
QUESTION: I want to know some more guidance from you on how to interpret the fact that Netanyahu and Arafat, who are obviously the key peacemakers here or negotiators, have not met in two days. I mean, there have been reports of shouting matches between the two, that Arafat --
MR. RUBIN: I have not heard of that.
QUESTION: You have not heard that?
MR. RUBIN: Shouting matches, no.
QUESTION: All right. There has also been reports of, you know, Arafat --
MR. RUBIN: And I have actually talked to people who have been in the meetings.
QUESTION: -- Arafat being, you know, frustrated with the whole process and with Netanyahu.
MR. RUBIN: I just don't want to characterize their personal feelings. I don't work for them and it would be hard to do that. But with respect to the substance underlying your question, we don't think it's an absolute prerequisite for there to be back-to-back continuous meetings between those two in order to resolve the problems that are here.
QUESTION: Well, wouldn't it be better to have face-to-face --
MR. RUBIN: It depends. It depends on how you can resolve them. It's not a prerequisite, and it might be better or it might not be.
QUESTION: What compelled the State Department to issue its statement today on Jordan and King Hussein?
MR. RUBIN: Well, it's fairly simple and I hope nobody in this room takes it personally. There was a rather dramatic account in one of the media outlets in the region that indicated that we have concluded the King's condition is terminal -- that's not true. That said, that we are concerned about the Crown Prince Hassan's ability to maintain stability -- that's not true. We have confidence in Crown Prince Hassan. That said that we have had high level meetings to discuss the day after in Jordan -- that's not true. Other than that, I think the article was fine. But I think we put this out because it obviously got a fair amount of attention in the region.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) some of those begin parsing some of your words and, you know, looking for nuances --
MR. RUBIN: Just let me say that the subject I was addressing is obviously not a laughing matter. King Hussein has been undergoing treatment under the direction of a team of the finest specialists. We look forward to his full recovery. We understand he has been making good progress and, like all people all over the world, we are keeping him in our thoughts and prayers.
MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright spoke to Crown Prince Hassan this morning, obviously, to assure him that the items in the media outlet's report were not true, and I think that he was fine about it. Someone I spoke to this morning had seen the King recently and thought that that was the -- the reporting on this was way out of line. I do believe the President, and I know Secretary Albright, have been in touch with the King by phone in recent days.
QUESTION: I hesitate really to bring this up, but political will is a phrase you use. And it could be a generic phrase meaning just will.
MR. RUBIN: Will. That's all.
QUESTION: All right. Because if it's political --
MR. RUBIN: No, no.
QUESTION: You realize you have -- you don't have parallel situations.
MR. RUBIN: You can take "political" out. The will to make the tough choices. If the word "political" was going to prompt a serious --
QUESTION: Before the summit there seemed to be a concerted effort by the United States to keep all the participants at the conference center. Yet since then the Israelis have gone off shopping and for lunch, the Palestinians have gone shopping, and there has even been a report about Sarah Netanyahu's hairdresser being allowed to come. What is going on and has this had any impact on the talks?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't know about all these reports about hairdressers and all that. I didn't even bother to check that one out. But I can say that we don't think that any of the extracurricular activities has interfered with the possibility or the prospect for doing what we need to do here.
QUESTION: Speaking of that very point, there is a group outside calling themselves the Terror Victims Association, who said they had lunch with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Friday. They are reporting him as giving certain assurances in this lunch concerning the talks that he is carrying on there, one of which they are quoting him as saying, "I'm not going forward with agreement without extradition of murderers in accordance with Oslo," and, secondly, that he does not accept the American compromise proposal, which is that I guess convicted murderers stay with the Palestinian authority and that the CIA would monitor that they are in jail.
First of all, I am just wondering whether any of these assurances have come up in the talks themselves and, secondly, do you have any comment about the Prime Minister having this meeting?
MR. RUBIN: I have no view on such a meeting. As far as the specifics are concerned, I don't know what was said between the Prime Minister and this group, whether that is an accurate account or not. Regardless of whether it is an accurate account, we don't think getting into the details of an issue like that would be helpful to the prospect of getting an agreement and, therefore, we're not going to get into the details of it.
QUESTION: Do you have any objection to him saying this to this group if, indeed, he said this?
MR. RUBIN: I don't know whether he said it.
QUESTION: Going back to the meeting question, I'm having a hard time understanding why it's not important now. About six weeks ago the Secretary made a very big public point that it was time for the two leaders to come together to complete the agreement, and how it has been two days, they haven't met. Is it because they don't want to meet? Have you all tried to get them to meet? And why do they now not need to meet when they did need to meet before?
MR. RUBIN: Right. Coming together is a term of art in this business, and I wouldn't read too much into it. As I indicated in response to Andrea's question, we don't believe that back-to-back non-stop discussions between those two leaders by themselves is necessarily a prerequisite for getting an agreement. We as the mediators, as the conjurors of this event, have to make judgements, and we make judgements as to what is the best way to promote progress -- what meetings, what events, what conclaves, who should meet with who, what sequence they should meet. These are all the questions that a lot of our guys spend a lot of time thinking about, and I have not heard any of those who very much want there to be an agreement concerned that the lack of a direct meeting since Friday between the two is going to block the prospect for an agreement if the will exists to make the tough choices.
QUESTION: Just given that answer and since you do want to carefully stage manage what happens inside --
MR. RUBIN: The best we can.
QUESTION: Doesn't it disrupt things when people are leaving all the time, and doesn't that change -- or have you changed the way that you look at this, that perhaps the original thought of keeping them all bottled up was not the correct way to proceed?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I wouldn't see it as black and white. I understand the question. I think the objective was, given the nature of the delegations, the nature of the media in those areas, that one of the goals was certainly to avoid having a negotiation by press conference, and have largely succeeded in that, if not wholly.
And as far as keeping them there, it is really a question of being able to be sure you can find them to get people together, to organize meetings on short notice, to make sure that one delegation member isn't off somewhere when you need to find them to work on a particular subject. And I have been around the nerve center of the process, and haven't seen, you know, we need So-and-So X and he's at Brooks Brothers buying some pajamas. So that doesn't mean that people haven't gone out and done that, but I just don't think it has interfered with the work plan.
QUESTION: Could you substitute the word "trust" for "will," and do you think that there has been any increase or any change, any growth, in the level of trust between not only the leaders but the negotiators themselves?
MR. RUBIN: Again, I think you're asking a completely legitimate question, but to answer it properly I would have to speak for each of one or the other. What I can do is observe the fact that for eleven months they didn't get together, the peace process was going off the rails, is off the rails; in New York the three of them met -- the Secretary, Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu . They had a good discussion. They met with the President the next day. They had another good discussion.
As a result of that, Secretary Albright went out there, brought them together. They had a meal together for the first time. I don't want to overplay that, nor do I want to dismiss it completely. As a result of that, a decision was made to bring them here, very close distances from each other. The delegations in a position to talk to each other, meetings convened by the President with the two.
Clearly, all I can say is that to the extent that direct face-to-face meetings are necessary to resolve problems, there have been more of them. But so far, the absence of back-to-back meetings has not led us to conclude that the adjectives that you have used are not there so that we can't do what we need to do.
QUESTION: There is a report today that the Israeli security forces fired on (inaudible).
MR. RUBIN: I haven't seen that report, and I would have to get back to you on that.
QUESTION: I don't mean this to be tangentious but --
MR. RUBIN: Fire away.
QUESTION: If you invest 20-something hours of the President's time, X amount of hours of the Vice President's time, four days of the Secretary of State's time, four days of the Director of Central Intelligence's time, Berger, et cetera, can you actually let these people out of here without an agreement?
MR. RUBIN: Nicely posed, but the answer to the question is we have brought here the resources and the people necessary to do the work we want to do. We are doing that, and I don't want to speculate on what will happen if we don't do that work.
QUESTION: To follow up on that original Gore question, what does the presence of both Gore and Clinton here together bring to the talks, the fact that they are here together?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I think some of your colleagues have already drawn conclusions about it, but if you would like it in my words I would be happy to provide it. And that is that it's an all-out effort by the administration to try to bring to bear its skill, its expertise, its persuasive power, its knowledge, the particular strong personal ties between President Clinton and Vice President Gore and others with the various leaders, in order to cajole and be creative and try to see whether we can resolve some of the important problems.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Clinton and the administration take if these invitations do not bear fruit? What (inaudible) do Clinton and the administration --
MR. RUBIN: It's 2:55 on Sunday. I don't want to speculate yet. I may never want to speculate.
QUESTION: The real Wye River conference started this morning with the arrival of Sharon and Mordechai. The full Israeli delegation is here now and Gore is here now. Do you think that this is breaking down in the same way that Camp David did? I don't mean breaking down in the sense of ruining the conference, but it's breaking down to the point where the President and the Vice President meeting with the principal actors are more important than the committees, are more important than anything else in order to reach an agreement? Is that what we're seeing? It took Carter personally shuttling back and forth. That seems to be what is happening here -- but now we have Sharon. The other question, Did Sharon meet with any Palestinians yet and will he meet with any Palestinians?
MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that the Foreign Minister arrived, came over to see the President and the Vice President and Secretary Albright, and then spent 40 minutes or so with them, except that the Vice President left to go greet the Prime Minister. As far as what the other parts of his schedule have been, I will have to check for you. I don't agree with your characterization that Wye River meeting has just begun today. I think that would be a grave disservice to all the people who have been working so hard for the last three days. As far as analogies to Camp David are concerned, you know, analogies might be useful in your business; in our business, this is a unique situation with a unique set of problems, a unique location. Wye is not Camp David and we're trying to focus on the problems that Wye have, not make analogies to other places.
QUESTION: Do you have any commitment from the two parties to stay in Wye for the next few days. I ask you this question to see if any of the parties left and end of the talks and go home?
MR. RUBIN: I don't know the answer to that question. I am sure that at some level people have begun to speculate about tomorrow, but I have been urged to be very clear that we are focused on today and we shouldn't be speculating about tomorrow.
QUESTION: What are the logistics for the rest of the day? Will there be more briefings? Will you call back?
MR. RUBIN: My expectation is that Joe Lockhart, on behalf of the President, will be talking to the White House pool about remaining events. If there is a need to say anything significant, then I will see that something significant is said if there is such a need. But let's just take it a couple hours at a time.
Over here and then in the back and then we're still going. It's amazing how little I can provide and how many the questions are.
QUESTION: Can I ask you a question? Just a few questions. The first one is a few days ago you had said that a will to reach an agreement had been observed during the meetings with Netanyahu and Arafat, and I was just wondering if the same will was observed from Sharon, if it seemed to be will that he had a will to reach an agreement.
MR. RUBIN: Let's do them one at a time. I don't remember saying that specifically. I think we had a discussion over here on the question of whether there would be the will to reach an agreement. With respect to Arial Sharon, the Foreign Minister, he just arrived. He had one meeting with the President and Vice President. I believe that certainly all of the people who you have spoken to prior to Wye and those who managed to speak before they got here have indicated that everybody wants to see this achieve an agreement. The question is: Will it? And it's still an open question.
QUESTION: Okay. And back to the subject of the meeting between Arafat and Netanyahu. For an agreement to be reached, does the State Department feel there needs to be some sort of final meeting between these two men, and is the State Department offering to arrange such a meeting today?
MR. RUBIN: Is there what?
QUESTION: Is there a need to have a meeting between these two leaders in order to conclude an agreement? I mean, you said there is no need for back-to-back, but to finalize an agreement do these men need to meet? And since the State Department wants to conclude this today, is the State Department trying to set up a meeting today?
MR. RUBIN: We are taking this one meeting at a time in terms of our discussions with you. There is a meeting now going on and I have described the procedure of that meeting. There is an expected next meeting, and I want to stay one meeting ahead, not two meetings ahead.
QUESTION: So will these two men need to meet to finalize an agreement?
MR. RUBIN: If we think they need to, we will arrange it.
QUESTION: An Israeli radio report said that the President Clinton told the Prime Minister that he will recognize a Palestinian state if there was no agreement. My question is not is this true or not. Is this --
MR. RUBIN: That would have been easy.
QUESTION: Is that an option for the US if it does not continue after this meeting in maybe two or three months?
MR. RUBIN: Well, let me answer the question that you almost asked, and that is did President Clinton tell Prime Minister Netanyahu that if there wasn't an agreement that we would recognize a Palestinian state. To paraphrase Secretary Albright's diplomatic term, the answer to that is balderdash, no, nonsense, wrong. I don't think I need go on.
With respect to an option, you have now parsed it down to whether it's an option, I have heard nobody suggest such a thing.
QUESTION: Is it true that Prime Minister Netanyahu got guarantees from President Clinton that the US will not impose any percentage on the third withdrawal and that it will leave it up to the Palestinians?
MR. RUBIN: To answer that question in either the affirmative or the negative would be to do what I have specifically not been doing, which is getting into substance. But I would urge you not to trust for publication the views of one side or another when they clearly are designed to serve their own purposes.
QUESTION: If and when we reach agreement here in Wye, does the United States have plans of supervision of these articles and agreements step by step afterwards?
MR. RUBIN: Will the United States --
QUESTION: Take part in the monitoring of the --
MR. RUBIN: Well, without getting into the specifics of it, certainly the United States has played an important role throughout in trying to turn its initiative into a reality, and I think there is an expectation if it became a reality that we would continue to play an important role during its implementation.