THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Shepherdstown, West Virginia) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release January 4, 2000
READOUT TO THE POOL BY JOE LOCKHART The Clarion Hotel Shepherdstown, West Virginia
2:53 P.M. EST
Q Do you have any facts to report?
MR. LOCKHART: Very few. The President met with Prime Minister Barak, they met for about a half hour. I expect within the next few minutes a trilateral meeting will commence. And then I'll come talk to you once that's done. There's a real chance that once that's done, we'll get in the cars and go back.
Q And when that will be?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't expect this to go too long, but, listen, the word "expect" has outsized meaning with this group.
Q What did he and Barak talk about?
MR. LOCKHART: The issues facing the Israeli-Syrian peace process.
Q This morning did Albright meet with both delegations or prior to -
MR. LOCKHART: I believe so, yes. There were a number of meetings.
Q Jamie already briefed?
MR. LOCKHART: I think, as Jamie said, there were some procedural issues that were overcome. The discussions are now moving forward.
Q Was this a deal where they wouldn't do the trilateral meeting until the President came out here and talked to people about it?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, he talked to al-Shara a second time last night, talked to Barak a second time this morning. I mean, obviously, it puts it in a trilateral meeting, with the President present.
Q Did we know this, that Clinton spoke to these people last night and this morning?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. I think as I said last night, as the facilitator here we have to make a judgment of when we think is the best time to bring parties together, when to meet privately. We made the judgment last night that it was best for everybody to break for the night and go home, and come back today - and that's what we've done; now we're moving forward.
Q Just a technicality, were they all in the room together? Can we go tell people that they've begun the trilat?
MR. LOCKHART: As far as I know, when I walked down here they had not begun. The other meeting had just broken. The President is in with the team, was going to spend a few minutes just sort of debriefing, getting ready for the next round.
Q Do you mean al-Shara and Barak will be in the same room --
MR. LOCKHART: Correct, with Clinton.
Q Not just their delegation?
MR. LOCKHART: No. The three of them - I expect the Secretary of State and some notetakers.
Q Is Berger here?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q I know you can't say how long the meeting is going to go. But is it slotted for an hour, for 90 minutes, for 30 minutes.
MR. LOCKHART: I'd say it's not slotted for any particular duration. They've got a number of issues to discuss -- they'll work through them and when they're done, they're done.
Q Can you talk about what any of those issues are?
MR. LOCKHART: I think going into this we talked about there are a number of difficult issues that face them. As the President said this morning, they're all on the table and it's a very large table.
END 2:57 P.M. EST