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Public Papers - 1992 - December

Remarks Prior to Discussions With Ambassador Mowaffak Aloaf of the Syrian Peace Delegation

1992-12-17

The President. We're glad you're here and look forward to hearing from you how you feel the peace process is going and all of that. We salute you for staying in the game and being at the negotiations. I want to assure you of our determination to try to bring these as far along as we can while we're here. And I'm confident that our successors will want to see this process actively and vigorously continued.

Ambassador Aloaf. Well, we are grateful very much, Mr. President, for receiving us. We consider this, really, as an indication of the great importance you attach to the peace process, something where our people and our authorities are convinced very deeply of. And they already, I think, have expressed their appreciation for your efforts.

This is your peace initiative. If we are sorry that after 13 months of this peace process we are still without real progress, it is because we know how much effort and how much -- especially Secretary Baker -- time, I think -- has spent a lot of energy and efforts under your leadership in order to make this peace process the hopeful end for a conflict which has lasted for more than half a century -- before and after.

The President. Well, we can talk in a little more detail now as to how you see it and what you think we might be doing. But I, again, I say welcome.

Q. Do you believe the process has not succeeded, Mr. President?

The President. He doesn't remember that I don't take questions at these photo opportunities. But I'm glad and appreciate your -- --

Q. Are you boycotting the talks today, Mr. Ambassador?

Ambassador Aloaf. We are not boycotting the peace process. We are protesting against what's happening today when more than 400 people, human beings, sitting blindfolded, their hands tied behind their back, in buses, waiting for a decision about something which is, to begin with, really not acceptable in neither an international nor in humanitarian roles. So we shall tell our Israeli counterpart how we feel about that. And we believe that this is not really helpful to the peace process.

Q. But you will remain in the peace process.

Ambassador Aloaf. We are in the peace process because we believe in the seriousness of the United States of America. We consider this invitation by President Bush to us as an indication of that importance and also as a message to the successor of President Bush, President-elect Clinton, a message that the peace process is important not only to the parties but also to the United States of America and to the world.

The President. I can assure you it is. And we'll see where we go. But we'll discuss that item here now as soon as we have our private talks.

Note: The President spoke at 10:20 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House.

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