THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Shepherdstown, West Virginia) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release January 3, 2000
READOUT TO THE TRAVELING PRESS POOL BY JOE LOCKHART Shepherdstown, West Virginia
10:38 P.M. EST
MR. LOCKHART: (IN PROGRESS) -- best way to move forward was to do the bilateral, the second bilateral this evening, and by the time we finish with that, it will probably be at a late enough hour to be worth just heading home.
Q So is he going back tomorrow?
MR. LOCKHART: Don't know.
Q Joe, did the three of them meet at any time other than walking across the bridge?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes -- you saw them.
Q They didn't sit down, they didn't eat, they didn't do anything?
Q Joe, for the sake of the pool, could you just take that from the top one more time, please?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. I expect the President, shortly, to begin a bilateral with Foreign Minister al-Shara. I expect once that's done, we'll head home, given the lateness. In the time after the bilats broke up, the Secretary of State met with both parties. Those meetings went quite long. The team made a judgment after that meeting to go forward with this bilat, and again, I do expect that once this is done, we'll probably head home.
Q Is it the first bilat that those two gentlemen will have had today?
MR. LOCKHART: It's the second one.
Q Okay, good.
Q Why not just have the trilat pro forma and go home? I mean, why not --
MR. LOCKHART: They've made the judgment that this --
Q No, I know, but can you give us any indication of why?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to get into the substance of the discussions.
Q Did he do a second bilat with Barak?
MR. LOCKHART: No.
Q Why not?
MR. LOCKHART: The Secretary of State has meet with both -- why not? On what?
Q Why not do a second bilat with Barak?
MR. LOCKHART: We're doing this in a way we think is the most appropriate, and we're scheduling as we go --
Q Should this be interpreted as a sign of trouble in the talks, or a snag or anything?
MR. LOCKHART: I wouldn't interpret it one way or the other, just that the schedule is often fluid.
Q Did al-Shara have any plans to leave?
MR. LOCKHART: Leave where?
Q Leave here after tonight?
MR. LOCKHART: Not that I know of.
Q Are you coming back on Wednesday?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know when we're coming back.
Q Is the President disappointed to not get a trilat tonight?
MR. LOCKHART: No.
Q She asked about al-Shara leaving. Are there any plans for Barak to leave after tonight?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know any leaving plans.
Q There's no firm plan, then, for a trilat that's nailed down right now?
MR. LOCKHART: That's correct.
Q So the President's planning this bilat -- this second bilat with al-Shara is expected to be a brief bilat, or is it expected to go --
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know.
Q -- kind of open-ended?
Q Joe, can you say, aside from scheduling and things running late, was there anything like any acrimony that led to the putting off of a trilateral at all?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm just not going to get into the substance of the discussions, only to say that after the meetings with the Secretary of State, the team made the judgment that this was the best way to move forward.
Q So, throughout this entire time, since we dropped the President here earlier, Barak and al-Shara have a meeting off and on with Albright?
MR. LOCKHART: Back and forth -- Jamie's got the times, but I think he's talking to his guys, so you can just compare notes on how long those meetings lasted.
Q But that's essentially been going on over here?
MR. LOCKHART: Essentially, yes, with some breaks.
Q After al-Shara -- after the second bilat, are we going to have any kind of readouts?
MR. LOCKHART: Maybe something very briefly.
Q Was there a dinner? Did the President host a dinner?
MR. LOCKHART: No.
Q Thank you.
MR. LOCKHART: Thanks.
END 10:41 P.M. EST