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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 7, 1997
                           IN PHOTO OPPORTUNITY 

The Oval Office

10:48 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Good morning, everyone. I'm delighted to have President Weizman here, and we had a nice dinner last evening, and we're going to have further talks today about what we can do in the United States to further the peace process. And certainly we are grateful for all that he has done as president and throughout his entire career. It's a great honor to have you here.

PRESIDENT WEIZMAN: Thank you very much.


Q Mr. President, thank you. In light of the recent swap between Israel and Jordan, there has also been talk raised again about Jonathan Pollard. I was wondering if you believe justice was served when he received his life sentence. And do you believe he will spend his life sentence in prison?

And to President Weizman, will you be raising this issue today with the President?

PRESIDENT WEIZMAN: You were talking too fast. What did you say?

Q The question of Jonathan Pollard -- will you be raising it with President Clinton today?

PRESIDENT WEIZMAN: It's always in our minds.

Q Mr. President?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I receive -- when Mr. Pollard applies for clemency, I receive recommendations from both my Justice and National Security Advisers, and I take into account what they recommend, and then I take action. And that's what I'll do if it comes up again.

Q Good morning. Thank you, Mr. President. What is your reaction to the attempted assassination attempt in Jordan and Mr. Netanyahu's apparent contention that it was a legitimate tool of government?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: The United States law is different on that, and our policy is different on this. I believe that certainly for us we have the right law. We don't -- it's illegal for the United States government to engage in assassination attempts. But I think that it's very important for countries to fight terrorism. I think that Israel's struggle against terrorism is important, but it's also important to consider the consequences on people who are you allies of whatever actions you take.

I think the important thing now for me is to try to get this peace process back on track. That's really the only way to ultimately get rid of terrorist problems in the Middle East. We've got to keep doing that. And then we can all -- have all governments working together against terrorists.

Q President Clinton, can I ask you a question?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me first say that we are profoundly honored to have President Weizman here. We are grateful for his visit and for his work for peace as president and for, indeed, his entire career. I've looked forward to this for a long time. We had a grand dinner last night, and I'm looking forward to our visit.

Please ask your question.

Q What do you think about this Israeli failed assassination attempt in Jordan?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I believe that it's important to fight terrorism, but I think it's important to consider in the fight the consequences on all your allies in that fight and what the ultimate conclusions will be. The people that are involved have dealt with it as best they could, and so I think the important thing for me now is to get the peace process back on track and to go forward.

American law is very different, you know. We don't -- it's against the law in America for the government to promote any kind of assassination, and I agree with that for us. But I think the most important thing for me is to get this peace process back on track.

Q Mr. President, I understand that you were considering last night the possibility of inviting both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat to a two-month summit at the North Pole? (Laughter.) Is it on the agenda?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: You got a good leak. Let me say what I said last night. I said that I would go anywhere or do anything that I thought would be most effective in promoting the peace process, and if I thought it would help I would get parkas for all of us and we could all go to the North Pole and stay there until we had a peace agreement. And I will reiterate that in public.

But what we are going to discuss today, and what I am continually assessing, is what is the best way for the United States to promote the peace process without pretending that we're a party that can make the peace, and what is the most effective thing for us to do.

But what I said was that I would do anything, including go to the North Pole, if I thought it would help make peace, and I will reiterate that in public. I would do that. At least it would cool things down. (Laughter.)

Q Are you optimistic about the peace process, because people in the Middle East are not?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: In a funny way, sometimes when things get really bad, they have a way of getting everyone's attention about the bigger issues. And it may be that some of the difficulties of the last six months will create an environment where everyone is more aware of the ultimate consequences. And perhaps we can therefore actually have a chance to get it back on track that is greater than the chance we've had for the last several months. I just hope so.

Thank you. We need to visit.

END 10:54 A.M. EDT