THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Shepherdstown, West Virginia) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release January 4, 2000
SECOND READOUT TO THE POOL BY JOE LOCKHART The Clarion Hotel Shepherdstown, West Virginia
4:25 P.M. EST
MR. LOCKHART: Okay. The President, the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister met for one hour, beginning at 3:10 p.m. They broke at 4:10 p.m. This was a very productive meeting, both sides have gotten together and are getting down to business. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the process - a process which we expect to be comprehensive and rigorous. On the procedural front, committees were formed and will cover all of the issues over the next few days. The process of the committees has begun; I expect there will be meetings this evening.
As far as the rest of the evening, we're a little up in the air right now. The President is in now, talking to his team and I hope to come back within the next 20 minutes or so to give you a sense of the evening and whether the President will participate.
Q The committees - who's on the committees?
MR. LOCKHART: We're not going to get into the details of that, only that there are a number of issues that they need to work through, and that process has begun.
Q Is it strictly bilateral, the committees, or is there a U.S. representative on each of the committees?
MR. LOCKHART: The U.S. has representatives that will help work through some of these issues.
Q Can you say, at least, how many committees - four, five or more?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not sure I know the answer to that, so I'm not going to answer it. I'll check - I might be able to get you that answer.
Q For each sort of major issue there's a separate committee, Joe? I'm just trying to understand.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, there are - I think for major issues they have to work through there is a committee, a working group that will work as part of this process to try to reach an agreement.
Q Those groups have Americans in them, as well - or we're talking about a Syrian side and an Israeli side?
MR. LOCKHART: There will be Americans who are designated to work on particular issues.
Q Is it fair to characterize the trilat as still working through a framework, such as getting these committee groups together?
MR. LOCKHART: I think, as indicated by what I said at the top, they're getting down to business and beginning the work that they need to do.
Q So the committee, on each committee there's a Syrian, an Israeli and an American? Is that -
MR. LOCKHART: Basically, I think each side will designate people -- or has designated people to work in a group. So I would expect you'll have a representative of Syria, Israel, and the United States to work through these issues.
Q That whole get-together would be here or elsewhere in the region?
MR. LOCKHART: No, here. There's nothing that's going to happen any place other than here. But I should know that within the next half hour. I expect there will probably be activity tonight, the question is whether the President will go back to the White House or he'll remain for some event.
END 4:30 P.M. EST