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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                        (Northfield, Minnesota)
For Immediate Release                                      June 10, 2000

                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

              Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
                         Minneapolis, Minnesota

12:17 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: As all of you know, I received word not very long ago on President Assad's death in Syria today. I was very saddened by it, and I want to offer my condolences to his son, his family, and to the people of Syria.

You know, over the last seven years, I had the occasion to meet with President Assad many times, and I believe I got to know him well. And while we had our disagreements, I always respected him because I felt that he was open and straightforward with me, and because I felt he meant it when he said he had made a strategic choice for peace. I regret that that peace was not achieved in his lifetime, and I hope that it can still be achieved, in no small measure because of the commitment he made.

I think today, rather than speculating about the future, it would be best for all of us just to send our condolences and our best thoughts to his family and to the people of Syria. Thank you.

Q: Mr. President since he was such a integral link in the process, is this going to delay the future of the process? How is it going to affect the expediency of the process that you've been trying to jump-start recently?

THE PRESIDENT: Peter, I think it's premature to say. There will be a period of mourning in Syria, there will be a period of sorting out, and the Syrian people will make some decisions, and then we'll see what happens. But, you know, we've been at this now for years because of the decision that he made to go back to negotiations and try to move away from conflict, and it's certainly a path I hope the country will stay on.

END 12:20 P.M. CDT