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RUBIN PRESS BRIEFING ON PEACE TALKSExpects final text of US plan to be given to both sides
Chesapeake College, Maryland -- Following is the transcript of State Department Spokesman James P. Rubin's briefing to the media late October 21:
Readout by Telephone to the Press
By James P. Rubin, Spokesman
October 21, 1998
MR. RUBIN: I always wonder what you guys look like. Can someone take a picture?
QUESTION: We have; we have lots of pictures. It's all there is to take pictures of.
MR. RUBIN: I know. It was so bad, they put me in the papers.
Here is where we are. The Secretary has just arrived at Chairman Arafat's location. She is having a one-on-one meeting with him. During the course of the evening she met twice with Prime Minister Netanyahu and spoke to him once on the phone. And then she had a meeting with several Israeli officials during the course of this interesting evening. My strong expectation is that before the night is out we will be sharing with the Palestinians the text.
QUESTION: Have you already with the Israelis?
MR. RUBIN: Let me just state that by the time the sun rises both parties will have had a chance to look at the text.
The Secretary spoke to the President three times tonight to report to him on the various developments, and Prime Minister Netanyahu twice -- once on the phone -- and she is now with Arafat.
QUESTION: Don't forget King Hussein. He is a very big player in this.
MR. RUBIN: And I told you in our last phone call about King Hussein didn't I?
QUESTION: How long is the document?
MR. RUBIN: You know it is under 100 and over 2.
QUESTION: Now come on, what's the secrecy about that? Is it a thick document?
MR. RUBIN: It's not that thick.
QUESTION: Not that thick? Is it 13 pages? I mean, what is the harm in numbers?
MR. RUBIN: I just don't know the exact number. You know, it's under 20.
QUESTION: Jamie, what is the significance of handing over the full document? Does this mean that this is the final US proposal without brackets or are there still things to be decided on?
MR. RUBIN: I think there is plenty of work to do. We have had a day where we have tried to focus on the serious issues and not the atmospherics, and tomorrow what we are hoping to do after having shared the document with them is to see whether we are in a position to bring this to a conclusion.
QUESTION: Are revisions being made this evening, and do you expect more through the evening?
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Substantial ones?
MR. RUBIN: No.
QUESTION: Well you haven't seen Arafat, so the revisions clearly took into account Israelis' views and concerns.
MR. RUBIN: No. I'm just telling you that this is a rolling document and that by the end of the evening we will have shared it with both sides by the end of night (cut off) ...
MR. RUBIN: (Recording resumed) I think where I was -- was telling you that, look, this is a continuous process. By the end of the night I would expect text resembling the final text that we think can do the job will be presented to the two sides by the end of the night.
QUESTION: Can you expect them to agree to it at that point? Is that right?
MR. RUBIN: No~.
QUESTION: Jamie, you said earlier that you were going to check with the drafterS to see if there had been any significant changes in the course of the late afternoon and evening.
MR. RUBIN: Look, I'm not going to interrupt their work just to find out basically what I told you, which is that it is a rolling document. By the time we hand a final version to them for reconvening tomorrow, to provide them with time to go through anything they still have to deal with, and then tomorrow there are other issues that may or may not end up in the document that will be discussed, it is not necessarily going to deal with everything in writing. That is when the President will be speaking to the Secretary in the morning about his participation.
QUESTION: Anything further you can say about whether the principals approved the work that was done by their subordinates on security this evening?
MR. RUBIN: Serious work has been done on that. That is all I can say.
QUESTION: You said you were hopeful that this would come to a conclusion tomorrow. How hopeful are you and what is the conclusion?
MR. RUBIN: Well, the conclusion would be to be able to get the interim agreements, current business and old business completed, so that we can go to the permanent status talks.
QUESTION: And how hopeful are you?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I tried to keep a certain sense of hope throughout this process, and I still have it.
QUESTION: Wait a second. You are hopeful you can get an agreement by tomorrow?
MR. RUBIN: That was true yesterday, I hoped we could get an agreement today. I think clearly the handing over of the text is another phase in the process, and that's significant in its own right; but whether it leads to an agreement is an open question.
QUESTION: Does the security agreement produced after Tenet's intervention tonight differ substantially from the agreement as it existed before the Israelis threatened to walk out?
MR. RUBIN: As I told you earlier, we have been keeping our eye on the ball and serious substantive business and has been going on all day, and we have tried not to be distracted by the atmospherics.
QUESTION: That doesn't answer the question.
MR. RUBIN: I'm just not going to give you a snapshot that allows you -- I know what you are looking for. We are trying to focus on the work and not the rest of it.
QUESTION: Are you describing the Israeli threat to walk out as just atmospherics?
MR. RUBIN: Look, I'm doing the best I can here. I don't see why you have to pursue it any further.
QUESTION: Thank you.