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US HAS ASKED KING HUSSEIN TO JOIN THE PEACE TALKS Rubin says there are still "significant gaps" in discussions
Chesapeake College, Wye Mills -- The United States has asked King Hussein of Jordan to join the Middle East Peace Talks at the Wye River Conference Center, State Department Spokesman James P. Rubin reported October 20.
"We think that the King will help bring home to the two delegations the importance for making the tough choices for peace," Rubin said. He said the King was expected to arrive at Wye River mid-day.
Asked if the parties are talking about issues other than security, Rubin said "the committee on safe passage met, the leaders met last night with all their Ministers, and they talked about everything."
Commenting on reports that an agreement is close, Rubin said, "I've seen those, and I would disagree with that characterization and tell you that in our view there are still gaps, significant ones."
He would not speculate on when the meetings will conclude, saying only "We will have to see, we are taking it one meeting at a time and one day at a time."
Following is the text of Rubin's remarks:
READOUT TO PRESS POOL
By James P. Rubin, Spokesman
October 20, 1998
Chesapeake College, Wye Mills
MR. RUBIN: Hi, is everyone there? All right, I just have a little bit before the briefing. We've asked King Hussein to come to Wye River Conference Center today. We think that the King will help bring home to the two delegations the importance of making the tough choices for peace. We would expect him to meet with the various leaders and officials during the course of the day.
Secretary Albright will meet him upon his arrival, and beyond that his schedule is being worked out.
QUESTION: Could you tell us, how is he flying in? Is he flying in with Clinton? Are they arriving at the Wye plantation? Will there be any way that the news media can get to him when he arrives?
MR. RUBIN: Well, certainly not for public comments. I don't know what the logistical arrangements for his arrival. As for now my understanding is that he is not flying with the President.
QUESTION: Who asked the King to come?
MR. RUBIN: The Americans.
MR. RUBIN: Why? I just said because we think he has a unique ability to bring home to the delegations the importance of making the tough choices necessary to achieve peace.
QUESTION: So they haven't understood those tough choices until today?
MR. RUBIN: Well, you can draw your own conclusions, but we think that he could play a helpful and constructive role.
QUESTION: Was it Secretary Albright or President Clinton who asked him?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I think we just made the decision here, but the Secretary and the President have been talking about this for a couple days.
QUESTION: Is anyone else going to be coming, like Ezer Weizman?
MR. RUBIN: No, I haven't heard that.
QUESTION: Was the King enthusiastic or was he reluctant to get involved?
MR. RUBIN: My impression is that he wants to do what we think would be most helpful.
QUESTION: There is a report in the Jerusalem Post that Arafat called Weizman last night. Is that true?
MR. RUBIN: I don't know. I think yesterday he called Weizman, because he also called Netanyahu to express regret and condolences about the terrorist attack.
QUESTION: Is Mordechai going to be here today or is he going to be in Washington?
MR. RUBIN: I believe he is here. Whether he goes to Washington for another visit, I don't know.
QUESTION: Did Ariel Sharon shake Arafat's hand?
MR. RUBIN: We'll have more to say about that dinner at the briefing.
QUESTION: One more on Weizman. What would the United States....
MR. RUBIN: With respect with Sharon, there was a dinner. He obviously had a meal with all of the members with the Palestinian delegation that were here, and I'm not aware that he shook his hand.
QUESTION: Have all the committees resumed working today?
MR. RUBIN: I will give you a full schedule at the briefing.
QUESTION: Could you just tell...
MR. RUBIN: At 10:15 in the morning, nothing is resumed in full. The days tend to start with people talking in their own delegations and the schedule gets worked out around now for the course of the day, so it would be too early to make a judgment on what meetings will take place.
QUESTION: The issue though is whether all the committees are all going to be working -- in other words all of the issues...
MR. RUBIN: I understand the issue, but I can't tell you what I don't know yet.
QUESTION: When is the President arriving Jamie?
MR. RUBIN: I would say mid-day. I don't know exactly. Joe may have more when he briefs.
QUESTION: Is today the last day of the talks?
MR. RUBIN: We will have to see, we are taking it one meeting at a time and one day at a time.
QUESTION: Jamie, the Israelis are saying the talks will definitely stretch into tomorrow, that all committee talks have resumed and that they are aiming for a partial agreement.
MR. RUBIN: The Israelis can say a lot of things....
QUESTION: Jamie, could you please just comment on the American point of view of that comment?
MR. RUBIN: Sorry?
QUESTION: Could you comment on what the Americans think of that comment?
MR. RUBIN: I just did.
QUESTION: Could you please just answer that Jamie?
MR. RUBIN: I don't know what the question is.
QUESTION: The Israelis are saying that they will definitely stay on until tomorrow, that committee talks have resumed on all issues, and that there will be a partial agreement -- that they are attempting to put together a partial agreement for signing tomorrow.
MR. RUBIN: I will have to see what the specific statement was, but with respect -- we are the host, we are organizing meetings in the best way we see fit. There hasn't been a full set of meetings organized yet as of 10:00 o'clock. So if they are willing to resume all the committee discussions, that is a good thing.
QUESTION: Do we know when the King is arriving?
MR. RUBIN: Mid-day is the best I can offer.
QUESTION: What about the question about the partial agreement? Will the United States consider that now, a partial agreement?
MR. RUBIN: There is a lot of work that needs to be done. We are trying to do the work as quickly and effectively as possible, and we are not speculating on outcomes. Others can speculate for their own political purposes, but we are not speculating.
QUESTION: But, would you settle for a partial agreement?
MR. RUBIN: We are doing the work we are trying to do. When we have concluded we have done all we can do, then we will know the answer to that.
QUESTION: Jamie, what about a second summit in November, next month.
MR. RUBIN: I haven't heard anything scheduled.
QUESTION: Is anyone else besides King Hussein expected today who is not part of the delegations?
MR. RUBIN: I don't think so.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. RUBIN: I just have two more points that in the rush to try to understand all your questions, I forgot.
With respect to the partial agreement question, our goal is to try to complete as much work as possible. That's why we're here. That would be the best answer I could offer on that question that Sid asked.
There have been reports that we're close to an agreement. I've seen those, and I would disagree with that characterization and tell you that in our view there are still gaps, significant ones.
QUESTION: Does that report also refer to a partial agreement?
MR. RUBIN: Whether it's agreement or partial agreement, the same answer applies.
QUESTION: Are the parties talking about something other than security?
MR. RUBIN: Today, I would expect so, yes. In fact, the committee on safe passage met, the leaders met last night with all their Ministers, and they talked about everything.
QUESTION: Did any other working groups meet last night, Jamie?
MR. RUBIN: That's the only one I know.
QUESTION: Thank you.