THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE MIDDLE EAST SITUATION
The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
8:38 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. As you know, we have been working for more than a week now to try to persuade the parties in the Middle East to find a way out of the recent cycle of violence, find a way back to negotiations. I'm very pleased that Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat have accepted President Mubarak's invitation to attend a summit at Sharm el-Sheikh. The summit will convene this Monday, and in the meantime we expect that both parties will do all in their power to cease hostilities and halt the violence.
Our central objectives must now be to stop the violence, to restore calm and safety, to agree on a fact-finding mechanism concerning how this began and how it can be prevented from occurring again and to find a way back to dialogue and negotiations.
Now, we should be under no illusions. The good news is the parties have agreed to meet and the situation appears to be calmer, but the path ahead is difficult. After the terrible events of the past few days, the situation is still quite tense. But President Mubarak and I are convinced that we must make every effort to break the cycle of violence.
Now, as all of you know, I have to go to Denver. I'm running a little late. But the truth is, we're in that period of time where I believe leading up to the summit the less those of us say who are going to be there, the better. And so, at least for the moment, I want to let my statement stand for itself. But I assure you I will continue to do everything I can to minimize the violence and to do all the preparation necessary to maximize the chances of a successful meeting.
END 8:41 AM EDT