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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                         (Camp David, Maryland)
For Immediate Release                                      July 20, 2000
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                        UPON DEPARTURE FOR JAPAN

                       Thurmont Elementary School
                           Thurmont, Maryland

12:45 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: As all of you know, for the past nine days we have been engaged in the most comprehensive and thorough negotiations ever between Palestinians and Israelis on the core issues of their 52-year conflict. The two parties have been making an intensive effort to resolve their differences over the most difficult issues. That gaps remain substantial but there has been progress, and we must all be prepared to go the extra mile.

After a round of intensive consultations this evening, the parties agreed to stay at Camp David while I travel to Okinawa for the G-8 summit. Mr. Lockhart will be able to fill you in on the details of how this occurred. I have to take the plane and I'm running late, but I do want him to explain what happened.

During the time I am gone, Secretary Albright will be working with the parties and we'll continue to try to close the gaps. Upon my return, I will assess the status of the talks.

There should be no illusion about the difficult task ahead, but there should be no limit to the effort we're prepared to make. These are in fundamental ways the hardest peace issues I have ever dealt with, but the short answer to why we're still here after everybody thought we were through is that nobody wanted to give up. After all these years, as hard as these issues are, they don't want to give up. And I didn't think we should give up, and so we're still plugging away.

But you should draw no inference from this. I will observe the news blackout on the details and will continue to do it, but this is really, really hard.

Thank you very much.

Q Mr. President, could you say one thing about your personal involvement here, what you have invested here personally over the past nine days, and what it was that led you to conclude that this phase of the summit is not going to pan out as you had hoped?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't know that it won't now. I think anything I would say about that would in some way or another violate the prohibitions we have had. I have respected that rigorously. I have asked the other members of the parties to do so. And I just think any characterization or description beyond what I told you -- we all thought it was over, at least now that -- and then we discovered that nobody wanted to quit. Nobody wanted to give up. And that should be encouraging. Thank you.

END 12:48 A.M. EDT