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11 March 2002

Excerpt: Zinni to Seek Immediate Implementation of Tenet Plan

(Boucher says U.S. monitors possible) (2940)
Special Middle East Envoy General Anthony Zinni, who is returning to
the region this week following the heavy Israeli-Palestinian violence,
will seek the immediate implementation of the Tenet security work
plan, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters March
11.
Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. leaders have endorsed the Tenet work
plan as a means of working, through security cooperation, towards an
enduring Palestinian-Israeli ceasefire and subsequent peace
negotiations. During his visit, Zinni is likely to raise the
possibility of sending U.S. monitors to the region as part of the
security effort, Boucher said during the daily press briefing.
"We have already stated that a third-party monitoring mechanism could
serve a useful role in facilitating implementation of the Tenet and
Mitchell plans, that we are prepared to participate in such a
mechanism if both sides agreed to such a step. Both sides have
expressed in the past some receptivity to the idea. General Zinni will
be taking up the issue with both sides as he discusses implementation
of the Tenet steps," he said.
"What we're looking for from the parties overall are steps to reduce
the violence, on the Palestinian side to dismantle the organizations
that perpetrate violence, and on the Israeli sides to exercise more
restraint and discipline," said Boucher.
Asked by reporters if the United States has asked Israel to lift
remaining travel restrictions on Palestinian Chairman Arafat, the
spokesman said, "The question of whether he should go to the Arab
League summit in Lebanon is a question that we do think Prime Minister
Sharon should give serious consideration to and make a judgment as to
whether it serves his interests."
Following is an excerpt from Boucher's March 11 briefing containing
his comments about the Middle East:
(begin excerpt)
QUESTION: On the Middle East. Any word on General Zinni's travel
plans? Also, Chairman Arafat now apparently has freedom to travel, but
the military campaign is continuing.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, that's kind of three questions. Let me see if I can
remember them all.
As far as Zinni's travel plan goes, he expects to go in mid-week. I
don't have final departure and arrival information for you on that
yet, and may not. But he would expect to go towards the middle of the
week.
As for the continuing violence, I would repeat what the Secretary said
yesterday in his television appearance. We are very deeply concerned
about the tragic loss of life and the escalating violence. We have a
roadmap to peace and a plan to solve the crisis. The actions that are
in the Tenet security work plan can bring the parties together to
reduce violence, to improve the security situation, and serve as a
first step towards implementation of the steps in the Mitchell
Committee Report to rebuild trust and confidence, and then resume a
political process.
In response to the receptivity that has been expressed by both sides,
the President has decided to send General Zinni back to the region.
His goal is to work with the two sides to begin implementing the Tenet
security work plan immediately.
The violence in the region continues, and we will be looking to both
sides and all regional parties to do all they can to make progress
possible. This means for each of the parties to consider the
consequences of their actions to avoid escalation, to end provocation
and incitement, and cease immediately actions that harm civilians.
Their focus must remain on ending the senseless violence and
bloodshed, and restoring hope to the Israelis, Palestinians, and to
the region as a whole.
In terms of the discussion of Chairman Arafat's ability to move
around, I really think I'll stick with what the Secretary said
yesterday. We do think this is an important matter for Prime Minister
Sharon to consider whether it serves his interest to allow continued
restrictions, and so that's an issue that we have discussed and will
continue to discuss with him.
QUESTION: We seem to see a pattern in the last few days of United
States or U.S. officials hinting that something might be a good idea
and then Prime Minister Sharon, hours or a day later, deciding to take
exactly that measure. What is going on here? I mean, how should we
interpret this? Are you coordinating with him on these various steps
in advance, or are you -- are they just succumbing to this new effort
by the United States, or what? How do you explain this?
MR. BOUCHER:  How do I explain this?
QUESTION:  This series of coincidences.
MR. BOUCHER: I would explain it in saying that we try to tell you as
honestly as we can the issues that we're focused on and the issues
that we're raising with the parties, whether it's raising with one
party the arrest of individuals, or raising with another party the
questions that we think need to be addressed in terms of the kind of
violence against humanitarian workers that we've seen as a result of
some of the IDF actions.
So we do raise these issues with the parties, and when you ask us
about it we try to reflect that accurately to you. But one can only
hope that we are able to continue working with the parties to resolve
the current issues and issues that are a focus to both of us and to
help them find solutions. But, in the end, many of these things are
for them to decide. We can go in there, we can send General Zinni
back, but our goal is to help both sides take steps to stop the
violence. Our goal is to get the sides to take the steps, because
they're the ones that have to take them. So that's what's going on.
QUESTION: So yesterday when the Secretary spoke about easing the
restrictions on Arafat's movements, did he know at that stage that the
Israeli Government was about to do exactly that?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of. But certainly it's an issue that
we had been discussing with the Israelis. It was an issue that had
come up, and I think all of us are interested in seeing a resolution
to the issues that were focused on.
QUESTION: Yesterday the Secretary also talked about monitors to a
greater extent than we'd heard recently, and said that a small number
of American monitors may even go in with General Zinni. Does that mean
literally when Zinni goes you may be sending other people, or can you
talk to us about this development?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary's words were, I think, to facilitate the
implementation of Tenet and Mitchell -- of the Tenet plan. That's not
the same as saying they'll travel on Zinni's aircraft. We have already
stated -- and you'll remember this goes back some time but was
particularly clearly stated in Rome in Genoa at the G-7 and G-8
meetings last year -- that a third-party monitoring mechanism could
serve a useful role in facilitating implementation of the Tenet and
Mitchell plans, that we are prepared to participate in such a
mechanism if both sides agree to such a step. Both sides have
expressed in the past some receptivity to the idea. General Zinni will
be taking up the issue with both sides as he discusses implementation
of the Tenet steps.
QUESTION: It's still to be decided when General Zinni gets there
whether both sides are, in fact, in favor of doing this now?
MR. BOUCHER:  Yes.
QUESTION: Has there been new receptivity on the part of Israel?
Because apparently this is, I gather, being seen in -- I'm sorry.
MR. BOUCHER:  Ask me one question at a time.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, I associate myself with that. Has there been
any receptivity among the Government of Israel to this idea? And to
follow up on sort of Jonathan's line of questioning, is this another
point of interest that the United States has raised with Prime
Minister Sharon and expects his cooperation in?
MR. BOUCHER: We expect General Zinni to take it up with the parties
when he goes out. We've certainly made the Israelis aware over time of
our willingness to do this. And they, in turn -- I think even if you
look back on the record, you'll see some public statements by the
Israelis saying that certain kinds of American monitoring and activity
would be welcome if we got to the point of implementing these steps.
So I think we have seen that in a variety of statements in the past,
and it will be an issue that General Zinni takes up when he goes back.
Because what we're looking to do is to get immediate implementation of
the steps in the Tenet work plan, to get the sides to cooperate and
work together on security. The United States has a role in that, and
we've always made clear that as the parties started to take steps to
implement these plans that we would be willing to provide some
monitoring -- if they want it. You have to add that at the end.
QUESTION: In your language on Arafat's ability to travel, you seem to
say that it's not yet -- this issue is not yet resolved. Does that
mean that you, along with the -- you agree with the Palestinians that
this isn't enough, that just allowing him to travel in the West Bank
and Gaza is not enough, and that perhaps he should be able to go
further afield, perhaps even to Beirut at the end of the month?
MR. BOUCHER: That was a specific answer -- a question the Secretary
was asked over the weekend, and he said that is an issue that we think
that Prime Minister Sharon should give serious consideration to.
QUESTION: Right. But that was before Sharon had actually said Arafat
could travel in the West Bank and Gaza. And you're --
MR. BOUCHER: But it still leaves hanging this question of whether he
should be able to go to Beirut.
QUESTION:  I know.
MR. BOUCHER:  And that's the one where --
QUESTION: Is that why you're not taking a position on what they've
done?
MR. BOUCHER: As the Secretary said yesterday, the question of whether
he should go to the Arab League summit in Lebanon is a question that
we do think Prime Minister Sharon should give serious consideration to
and make a judgment as to whether it serves his interest.
QUESTION: Does that mean that you would support him -- you want the
Israelis to allow Arafat to go?
MR. BOUCHER: We want the Israelis to look at this question seriously,
determine what's in their interest; and, generally, we want both
parties to continue to take positive actions.
QUESTION:  Do you think it serves their interest?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, it's going to be a question for them to decide,
but we think they should take a careful look at it.
QUESTION: Well, then let me -- forget about going to Beirut. Do you
think it's a good thing for the Israelis to be allowing Arafat to
travel now in the Palestinian territories? Is that a good thing, or is
the issue not resolved?
MR. BOUCHER:  The issue of his travel to Lebanon is not resolved.
QUESTION:  Okay.  So it's not enough --
MR. BOUCHER:  It's still hanging, right?
QUESTION: You think the Israelis should allow Arafat to go further?
More room on the leash, as it were?
MR. BOUCHER:  Do you want me to say it again?  (Laughter.)
QUESTION:  No, I just want you to say something --
MR. BOUCHER: We think the Israelis should take a careful look at this
question of Mr. Arafat's travel. We have noted what they have said
over the weekend in terms of his travel in the West Bank and Gaza. As
far as the question of whether he should go to Lebanon for the Arab
League meeting, we think this is something the Israelis and Prime
Minister Sharon should take a good look at, and determine what's in
their interest.
QUESTION: When you talk about that you're looking for immediate steps
to get into the Tenet work plan, and then you say that General Zinni
will discuss the issue of monitors, are you saying that U.S. monitors
are standing at the ready to go if the Israelis and Palestinians were
to agree? I mean, would that be something that could happen
immediately?
MR. BOUCHER:  I didn't say that.
QUESTION: No, I'm asking you if there are -- are they ready to go if
they would agree? Is that something that you see that could happen
immediately?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any team of monitors sitting down the
hall waiting for the call. But I'm sure that whatever the parties
think would be helpful and useful, that we could manage to organize
it. I don't know of any team on stand-by, if that's what you're
asking.
QUESTION:  What (inaudible) monitors come from?
MR. BOUCHER:  I haven't met them yet because they're not there.
QUESTION:  How many (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER:  I don't know.
QUESTION:  Change the subject?
QUESTION:  What would their (inaudible)?  (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, exactly. What kind of food do they want for dinner?
Let's not go too far. General Zinni has got to discuss these questions
with the parties when he gets out there. We're prepared to do what we
can to help the parties carry out their obligations or their
agreements under Tenet, and to start taking these steps to effectively
reduce the violence and cement a cease-fire.
QUESTION: Did the issue of monitors, or these folks to help implement
the Tenet plan, come up in the Burns and Tenet meeting last month with
the Israelis?
MR. BOUCHER:  What -- I don't know what meeting you're referring to.
QUESTION: When they went on -- I'm sorry. Did it come up with the
Jordanians, rather?
MR. BOUCHER: Assistant Secretary Burns went to Jeddah and Riyadh last
month.
QUESTION: Also, magically the Sharon government says they are possibly
lifting the insistence on one week of calm before any meetings. Now,
conversely, have we heard anything from the PA concerning this --
change of behavior or change of actions with respect to violence?
MR. BOUCHER: We have always looked to the parties to take specific
steps. We have looked to the Palestinian Authority, to Chairman
Arafat, to dismantle the groups, stop the violence. We have looked to
the parties to take specific steps that can reduce the level of
violence and then, as we've said, to implement immediately these steps
that Director Tenet worked out with them to try to cement a cease-fire
and get the security cooperation going again.
So in terms of what we're looking for, those are the kinds of steps
that we continue to look for. And I think you know we've made it clear
also on the Israeli side. We've made clear our concerns about the high
number of casualties among humanitarian workers that result from
Israeli Defense Force action. We have made clear our concerns, for
example, about emergency medical personnel not being able to get
access to Palestinian casualties for extended periods of time.
And so those are issues that are important to us. We have called on
the Israeli side to exercise utmost restraint and discipline,
including allowing things like unfettered access for ambulances and
emergency medical personnel through their checkpoints and to change
their actions, too. But what we're looking for from the parties
overall are steps to reduce the violence; on the Palestinian side, to
dismantle the organizations that perpetrate violence; and on the
Israeli side, to exercise more restraint and discipline.
QUESTION: I'd like to change the subject, but I think Charlie was
first in order.
MR. BOUCHER:  Charlie had first dibs on that.  One more on this.
QUESTION: Richard, the Secretary yesterday indicated that American
observers would almost be necessary or would be needed for the
cease-fire, the Tenet plan particularly, and he didn't indicate that
there was an international monitoring force being considered by the
United States. Is this a new U.S. policy of saying openly that
American observers might be necessary, if I can interpret it that way?
Is this a fig leaf for Sharon to be able to say that he's not agreed
to international monitors but he's going to agree to American
observers?
MR. BOUCHER: Can I just say no and have done with it, or do you want
me to correct everything in the question? We've talked about American
monitors before. In Rome last year we talked about third-party
monitoring. As I've noted, the parties themselves have addressed this
to some extent in public in the last -- when was that? That was June.
Rome and Genoa was last June -- so in the last year, ten months, the
parties themselves have addressed these issues and indicated some
receptivity to the idea of third-party monitoring and, more
specifically, to American monitoring. We've always said we are willing
to participate and to provide such monitors. The Secretary was quite
explicit about that over the weekend.
So I wouldn't go describing this as fig leaf. I wouldn't go describing
this as a brand new idea. We have been quite willing to do this
because our goal is to work with the parties to help them implement
the steps to make a cease-fire happen and stick. And that remains our
goal. That's what Zinni's going out to do, and if contributing
American monitors to the effort can help with that task, we'll do it.
And that is what Zinni's going to be talking to them about.
(end excerpt)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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