Clinton: Progress on final status will bring summit
Palestine-Israel-USA, Politics, 11/3/1999
US President Bill Clinton described today the Oslo meeting yesterday as having "entered a new phase." He said yesterday after a trilateral meeting that also included Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak that the Palestinians and Israelis "have agreed to work very hard to avoid public comments or actions which will cause enormous difficulty for the other side in the next hundred days or so when they're trying to come to agreement on the framework. And they have agreed with me that we might well have a summit at the end of this process if enough progress has been made to make us all believe that, in good faith, we can actually get an agreement at a summit."
He stressed that the focus now is on rapid progress, saying, "We have a very ambitious timetable here. I think the timetable is the middle of February that they've agreed to have the framework agreement," and adding, "We'll all be in high gear between now and then."
He said he is "very pleased" by the results of the Oslo meeting.
A senior administration official yesterday characterized Arafat and Barak as "determined to press ahead."
On Palestinian complaints that the Israelis are continuing their settlement program, endangering the peace process, the administration official said, "It's one of the issues for the permanent status negotiations. The Palestinians have their concerns. The Israelis, obviously, are prepared to talk about these issues. As one of the issues of permanent status, it has to be dealt with and resolved."
The official said that Arafat and Barak "focused principally on establishing a structure for the teams, having the teams meet on an intensive basis and having the two leaders get together on a very regular basis, as well. They didn't pick an actual time period for how often the leaders will get together, but they agreed it should be very regular."
The administration official added that the two sides' "objective going into this is to try to achieve a framework agreement on all the issues, on all the permanent status issues. Whether they will be able to do that, that's what the negotiations, that's what we're going to see over the coming time."
The final status issues include Israeli settlements, the return of Palestinian refugees, water, borders, and the status of Jerusalem.
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