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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 19, 1998
                          Readout to the Pool
                            by Joe Lockhart
                       Wye River Conference Center
                          Queenstown, Maryland

3:10 P.M. EDT

MR. LOCKHART: Let me try to give you a sense of how the President's afternoon will unfold. Right about now, which is about 3:00 p.m., the President will be briefed by the various experts who've been working here on security issues. There will be representatives from the U.S., Israeli and Palestinian delegations at this briefing. He'll get an update on the issues that they've been considering over the last few days. And there will be a discussion of those issues among all three sides and the President.

After that -- and all of this beyond this meeting is subject to some change and I'll keep you informed as the afternoon moves forward -- but I expect the President to have a brief meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, followed by a brief meeting with Chairman Arafat. And that will be followed by -- I expect it to be followed by a trilateral meeting between Chairman Arafat, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the President. The time on that is a little flexible. We'll let you know, again, as we go through the afternoon. After that, we'll just see where we go this evening.

Q -- expect -- does that mean all three haven't said yes to the idea of it?

MR. LOCKHART: I expect that that's how the President's schedule will unfold this afternoon. If there are any changes, we'll let you know.

Q Have the other two said they would be willing to take part in that?

MR. LOCKHART: I'll let you know if that changes, if there's any schedule change. I'm not going to get into any detail beyond that.

Q They're only discussing security issues from here on?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I think the first meeting will be on the issues of security. I don't want to signal the rest of the afternoon, the subject matter.

Q I thought the Israelis said they would only discuss security issues.

MR. LOCKHART: Again, I can tell you, based on who's in the first meeting, that that will be the subject. And I'm not going to get into any detail what the further meetings will be about.

Q Are the travel plans the same for the next two days?

MR. LOCKHART: As of now, we're planning to fulfill our commitments over the next couple days. If the situation here dictates a change, we'll let you know as soon as that becomes --as soon as we know.

Q In other words, if he were to stay overnight?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I think, as I said, if the situation here on the ground dictates a change in our travel schedule, we'll let you know.

Q Do you expect to go as late tonight as it has been going?

MR. LOCKHART: It is virtually impossible to predict.

Q This briefing, is it essentially Clinton listening to all three sides agree that they agree on certain points?

MR. LOCKHART: I think they will discuss a range of security issues, which they have been discussing over the last three or four days, and bring the President up to date on the status of their conversations.

Q Is that a format they've used before in the past five days?

MR. LOCKHART: There have been certainly meetings among the different committees over the last five days. I don't expect the other leaders to participate in this meeting. It will just be the President and the various experts on the security issues.

Q Has he done that? I mean, has he met with them before?

MR. LOCKHART: The President has met internally with his team throughout the three or four days he's been here. He's also met with the other leaders and some of the other delegation members. For instance, we told you about a meeting with Foreign Minister Sharon last night; a meeting yesterday morning with Foreign Minister Sharon and the Defense Minister Mordechai.

Q Not quite in the same configuration?

MR. LOCKHART: Correct, not in this configuration.

Q Is there any way you can characterize the talks at this stage, after five days?

MR. LOCKHART: I actually think the President gave you some sense in his departure statement when he said that the issues are difficult, the distrust is deep and the going has been tough. And he stressed that the parties need to face the consequences of failure and the benefits of progress.

Q Does it look good? Is this definitely going to end within a few days, or is it possible this could just go on indefinitely at this point?

MR. LOCKHART: I honestly can only speak to what I know about the rest of the afternoon and the early evening.

Q How about King Hussein? Is he on his way or what's he ?

MR. LOCKHART: I understand that he is in Washington today. I know Secretary Albright has spoken to him this morning, I believe. But I'm not aware of any plans for him to travel here, as of now.

Q The first meeting is experts only, right? I mean, it won't be the principles, except for the President?

MR. LOCKHART: Correct, except for the President.

Q And then the other meetings begin immediately?

MR. LOCKHART: My guess is, as has been sort of standard practice here, there will be some time between each of the meetings for the President to confer with his team -- Mr. Berger, Secretary Albright, Ambassador Ross and others.

Q Any communication with any of the other world leaders? I've heard some talk about Yeltsin maybe placing a call -- it was pretty speculative.

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of the President talking to other world leaders today -- certainly not this morning and in the time we traveled out here.

Q Before he departed, did the President get updates on anything else besides security issues or do any other office work?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, the President this morning signed the Y2K bill, which provides money for the Y2K fix, the computer Y2K fix. I believe he also signed the VA/HUD bill, and then spent about 45 minutes with National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and some of his team, getting an update on the situation out here. Sandy Berger spent some time on the phone this morning with the Secretary of State and relayed the latest information, and there was just some discussion about what we hoped to get accomplished out here today. And that was done in the Oval Office.

Q Any other bills you're expecting imminently?

MR. LOCKHART: I believe there will be another CR to go through Wednesday night, because I believe the votes are not scheduled until late Tuesday. So we'll sign that when that comes down in extension.

Q Today?

MR. LOCKHART: My guess is it won't come until tomorrow. I believe it's scheduled to come up for a vote in the House today, but perhaps not until tomorrow in the Senate. And then, obviously, there are a few more appropriation bills we have on the desk. And then the omnibus bill when that's ready to come down. But if it passes Tuesday night, it's not likely to be down until -- my guess would be sometime late in the day on Wednesday.

Q Thank you.

END 3:18 P.M. EDT