Clinton’ s Remarks on Jerusalem Put State Department Officials in Awkward Position
By Munir K. Nasser
President Clinton’s envoy to the Middle East, Edward Walker, said he discussed a new proposal for Jerusalem with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak when he met with him this week in Cairo.
According to a transcript released by the State Department in Washington, Walker was asked by reporters in Cairo to explain why Clinton came up with his remarks on moving the Embassy to Jerusalem at this sensitive time. Walker response was: “I learned a long time ago that when the President says something, one lets the President speak and one doesn't comment on the President's speech. I'll let his remarks stand.”
Walker denied that he ran into any resistance from Arab leaders on President Clinton's recent comments on Jerusalem. He said he had extremely good conversations with President Mubarak and Foreign Minister Amr Moussa.
“The President of the United States sent me here to seek their advice, their counsel, their best efforts to help, they'll do that and we'll see where we go from there,” he noted.
Meanwhile in Washington, State Department officials are refusing to comment on Clinton’s remarks on the move of the Embassy to Jerusalem, amid reports that such remarks have put them in awkward position that they cannot defend the official US long-standing policy on the issue.
A State Department source told Albawaba.com it does not help to comment on the President’s remarks at this time. “The more we say the worst it gets,” he said.
When pressed to state the US position on Jerusalem, the source said: “Our position forever has been Jerusalem is a final status issue, subject to negotiations. I don’t think the President will move the Embassy before an agreement is reached on the Palestinian track. The President made his decision, he will think about it, and he will make a decision before the end of the year.”
The source refused to comment on the nature of the talks Edward Walker is having with Arab leaders. When asked to comment on Sandy Berger’s remarks to the media that he was disappointed by the position taken by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the source said that Berger made some phone calls from Camp David to Arab leaders “asking for support that wasn’t there.” He said Walker is in the region now explaining the US position and what happened at Camp David and seeking support from the Arab states. He said Walker is expected back in the US on August 16.
When asked why the US is still keeping a news blackout on what happened at Camp David, the source said the United States is going to maintain as much as possible the blackout on what actually happened at Camp David. He noted that the Israelis and the Palestinians are already releasing details about the summit talks. “The parties are talking and putting the wrong version out already, namely to get support either within the Arab world or to get support for Barak’s survival,” he argued.
The source noted that the Clinton Administration is not taking any steps at this point to revive the negotiations. “We are not doing much at all. Walker will take his trip, and then Denis Ross will go to the region before the month is over, and then hopefully we can bring them back together before September 13,” he explained – Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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