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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 10, 1997
                            The Oval Office

11:11 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me say that I'm very glad to welcome President Mubarak back to Washington. The United States and Egypt have been partners in the quest for peace in the Middle East for two decades now. Nothing positive has happened except when we work together, and I think it's important that we continue to do so. And I'm looking forward to this meeting to discuss that as well as what we can do to improve the relations between our two countries.

Welcome, Mr. President. I'm glad to see you.

PRESIDENT MUBARAK: Thank you very much.

Q President Mubarak, you're the leader of the first nation to begin a peace process with Israel. Do you buy President Clinton's rationale that he is preserving the peace process by in effect sanctioning the building of settlements in east Jerusalem?

PRESIDENT MUBARAK: It is said in the memo that the President did change his mind concerning the settlements, but the statements coming out from the State Department and from the White House concerning the settlements -- the President is a full partner in the peace process. Without the United States, it would be very difficult to continue the peace process. So it's very important to have his influence, his leadership, his activity --

Q But he gave a green light with his veto.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: We're going to have a press conference later.


PRESIDENT CLINTON: And we're going to answer all the questions. But I don't think it's fair to say I've sanctioned that. We'll have a press conference later. I'll answer more questions.

Q Are you prepared to explain the veto, Mr. President -- Clinton?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Sure. Yes, we'll have a press conference and I'll answer all those questions. I'll be happy to answer that. And if no one gets to ask it, I will voluntarily answer it later.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Let me begin by saying that it's a great honor for the United States to have President Mubarak back at the White House. His leadership for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East has been absolutely essential to any progress which has been made for 20 years now. We have worked closely together, and I'm looking forward to having this meeting.

Let me also say that we're going to have a press conference afterward, and we'll do our best to answer whatever questions you have.

Do you have anything you would like to say, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT MUBARAK: Usually, I come to the United States to meet Mr. Clinton, for the United States is a full partner for the peace process, making tremendous efforts so the process will continue, so as to reach a comprehensive settlement and peace could prevail in the whole area and cooperation will continue among the countries in the Middle East.

I thank the President for his efforts, and we are going to discuss other issues now. Thank you.

END 11:15 A.M. EST