THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT, FOREIGN MINISTER PERES OF ISRAEL, AND CROWN PRINCE HASSAN OF JORDAN
10:52 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I'm happy to welcome back to the White House both Crown Prince Hassan and Foreign Minister Peres. We've had a productive session today. Jordan and Israel have taken further and very specific steps on the road to building a warm peace between their two nations.
Almost exactly a year ago Crown Prince Hassan and Foreign Minister Peres and I met to launch this trilateral process. What a difference a year makes. Since then, intensive bilateral and trilateral negotiations culminated just two months ago in the historic meeting I hosted here between King Hussein and Prime Minister Rabin when they signed the Washington Declaration and put an end to war between their two nations.
Since then peace treaty negotiations have made considerable progress, and steps to implement the warm peace all three of our nations want have already been taken. Jordan and Israel have already opened a border crossing for citizens of other nations at Aqaba and Eilat. And trilateral discussions on tourism, communications and economic development are proceeding.
These discussions take place at a time when the economic and trade barriers of the past are dissolving before our eyes. It's heartening that the Gulf Cooperation Council states, led by Saudi Arabia, have now declared that they will no longer enforce the secondary and tertiary aspects of the economic boycott, and will support a move in the Arab League to end the primary boycott of Israel.
Promoting trade, development and cooperation, rather than restraining and hindering normal economic relations, should be the hallmark of the new Middle East -- and Jordan and Israel are leading the way.
Today, the Crown Prince and the Foreign Minister have reached agreement on a variety of issues that will help develop the Jordan Rift Valley, increasing tourism, and assure future economic and social progress in the region. They have agreed to adopt basic principles to guide the future development of the Jordan Rift Valley, including projects dealing the environment, water, energy and tourism; to open a new northern border crossing for third-country nationals by October 15th; to establish a Red Sea marine peace park with assistance from the United States government; to convene a conference on exploring, constructing a canal between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea; to explore the establishment of a free trade zone in the Aqaba-Eilat area with a view to making it an economic hub for the northern peninsula of the Red Sea; to conduct, together with the United States, feasibility studies to expand the availability of water; and to undertake joint financing of dams on the Yarmuk and Jordan Rivers to alleviate water shortages.
That's quite a lot of work for them in this session. They are solid evidence that Jordan and Israel have not only ended their state of war, but are following through on their commitment to cooperate with each other and negotiate as rapidly as possible a final peace treaty. Our goal remains a comprehensive peace between Israel and all its Arab neighbors. We're hopeful that a breakthrough can be achieved and the negotiations underway between Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon.
In their ongoing talks, Israel and Jordan have looked to the trilateral discussions to help establish a comprehensive, lasting and warm peace. The steps we announce today are the building blocks of a modern peace between these ancient lands. The United States is proud to be a partner and facilitator in this extraordinary endeavor.
Crown Prince Hassan and Prime Minister Peres -- Foreign Minister Peres, on behalf of the American people and personally, let me say that I salute your vision, your courage, and your persistence. This has been a relationship that has meant a great deal not only to me, but to all of us in this country because of the incredible openness that you have displayed and the creativity you have brought to these negotiations.
I am grateful that the United States has been able to play a role in this process; grateful for the opportunity that we have had to try to facilitate and extraordinary coming together between two extraordinary nations and very extraordinary leaders.
CROWN PRINCE HASSAN: Mr. President, Foreign Minister Peres, you will forgive me by starting my statement by quoting from the Mishnah, the Ethics of the Fathers: "The world is sustained by three things -- by truth, by justice and by peace." I feel that in the spirit of our discussions that we have had truthful and frank and candid discussions both here today as on the occasion that we met last year to launch the trilateral committee. I come, of course, from the meetings in Aqaba, where those meetings were characterized by a truthful search for peace built on justice. And I would like to say that I come here in a mood of optimism that the work that we have commenced is a work that is going to live up to the hopes and aspirations of our peoples for a breakthrough for the future of both our peoples and for the peoples of the region.
Our negotiators have made progress that would have amazed us a year ago. We have moved the talks to our region. We have agreed on principles and modalities to resolve the outstanding issues. And today we are undertaking joint projects. We have implemented this vision in the confidence-building context of the most concrete kind. And at last, at long last, the leaders of our countries have met face to face and signed the Washington Declaration.
As we move ever further in our voyage towards peace, we witness the rebirth of the Middle East as a region, as a community and as a part of the international of states.
Foreign Minister Peres, you have spoken eloquently of your vision for the future of our region, to the vision that we share. Now we must eliminate the barriers that create obstacles to its realization. We must work to resolve all outstanding bilateral issues, giving relations between our countries a solid, equitable and sustainable basis. Over the past two days, we have discussed a range of ideas to that end, and I'm confident that we will rise together to these challenges and that we will go on to make good the promise of peace.
Millions in the Middle East are watching us today; they know where true peace resides. It is ultimately not in the hands of government, but in the hearts of individuals who will participate in true peace. The time has come for the peoples of the Middle East to gain a stake in peace; to partake of its fruits without discrimination, without exclusion. In Casablanca, at the end of this month, let us advance together toward that goal.
Mr. President, the involvement of the United States gives us great hope. Your support and that of American presidents throughout the years is cherished in my country. It was President Woodrow Wilson who proclaimed the need for -- and I quote -- "open covenants of peace openly arrived at." It has been a long journey. We have yet to arrive at our destination, but with God's help, the farthest shore is now in sight.
Thank you, gentlemen.
FOREIGN MINISTER PERES: Mr. President, Your Highness. I would like to thank, first of all, the American people; its institution; its leader, President Bill Clinton, for taking one of the most complicated issues, a region of problems and walls and make out of it a region of hope and promise. If we shall succeed in our endeavors, as I do believe we shall, it may serve as a model to many other places.
The Middle East was complex place for three basic reasons: The conflict was unprecedented, deep, full of emotion, and full of military strengths and confrontation. Secondly, the number of participants in this conflict was large and varied and different. And thirdly, it was basically military and political conflict rather than economic cooperation and social outlook.
May I say, Mr. President, that over the last year, everything has changed completely. A year ago we were standing here when the President, our Prime Minister Rabin, and King Hussein and Chairman Arafat agreed to start to solve the very complicated issue with the Palestinians. Today, Mr. President, it is a reality.
Later on there was the meeting, again here, between the Jordanian leaders and the Israeli leaders and the President. And what then was the Washington Declaration, today again is a vivid progress of cooperation for the benefit of all of our people. Then again, the Arab boycott that accompanied the Arab political boycott is disappearing, very much because of the work of Secretary Christopher for whom I would like to express my thanks.
And in the meantime some other events took place. We have agreed to open relations with Morocco, to open relations with Tunisia. It's not the end of the story or the end of debate, and as His Royal Highness has promised, we are going to meet in Casablanca for a most unusual attempt to combine private enterprise and governmental responsibility to promote the standard of living of all the people in the Middle East. In between our two countries, we are going to take parts of the desert and convert it into valleys of peace, of agriculture, of tourism.
A year ago, when we started, many people thought that we are looking for photo opportunities. Today we can say we have obtained not a photo opportunity, but a deep and moving change in human experience in the best part of the 20th century.
I want to express my hope to the President and his team, the American Congress, the American people will continue a job that really calls for a salute and appreciation.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END11:05 A.M. EDT