Representatives of 43 nations gathered in the State Department in Washington on 1 October 1993 to discuss how best to provide political and financial backing to the new Middle East. They pledged some $600 million for the immediate needs of the Palestinians and over $2 billion over the next five years to help establish Palestinian self government. Later in the day, at a White House ceremony, the president, Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and Foreign Minister Peres spoke of the need to cooperate in the sphere of economics, water development and other related areas for the benefit of all people. This was the first time that the Jordanian crown prince appeared together in public with the foreign minister of Israel. Text of the addresses follows:
President Clinton: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have a brief statement, and then I want to give the crown prince and the foreign minister an opportunity to make a few remarks.
I have just had the privilege of hosting what to date has been an unprecedented meeting in the Oval Office between His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel. This meeting is another important step on the road toward a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
With me in the Oval Office were Shimon Peres, a principal architect of the path-breaking Israel-PLO agreement; and Crown Prince Hassan, a leader who has literally devoted his life to the promotion of peace and a better future for the entire region. I am grateful to both of them for accepting my invitation to further the cause of peace.
On September 13, we bore witness to an event that should serve as a turning point in the history of the Middle East. Then, I spoke of my commitment to help build a new future for the Middle East and all its people. Today, we have taken two additional steps to turn that hope into reality.
This morning at the State Department, in an extraordinary demonstration of international support for peace, 43 nations from every region of the world helped to usher in this new era by providing their political and financial backing to those who would make peace in the Middle East. They pledged more than $600 million for the immediate needs of the Palestinians and over $2 billion over the next 5 years to help establish Palestinian self-government.
And now this meeting has just taken place in the Oval Office, coming as it does some 2 weeks after Jordan and Israel signed their agreement on a common agenda to guide their negotiations. This symbolizes a new relationship between Jordan and Israel, marked by dialogue and acceptance rather than confrontation and rejection.
The special relationship between the United States and Israel is central to the pursuit of peace, and I want to emphasize the great importance the United States attaches to Jordan's critical role in achieving lasting peace in the region.
In our meeting, both the crown prince and the foreign minister spoke of their hopes for the future of peace and prosperity for Israelis, Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, and Jordanians alike - indeed, for the entire region. To help to work toward this goal, they discussed ways to give more energy and force to their bilateral negotiations to resolve all outstanding issues.
They also agreed today that Israel and Jordan should establish a joint economic committee, much like the one agreed to in the Israel-PLO agreement of 21/2 weeks ago. And we all agreed that Israel, Jordan, and the United States should establish a working group to be convened by the United States with two representatives from each country so that Israel and Jordan can agree - together with this nation acting as facilitator - on the next steps in economic development in their two nations. They share so much in common, as they both pointed out. Now they want a common economic agenda.
They also agreed to work, through this working group, on common steps to reduce desertification in the area. We want to reduce the problems of the environment, and especially the problems the desert presents, as a part of the long-term economic growth of the Middle East and, especially, of Israel and Jordan.
And finally, they both agreed that we should all get to work as soon as possible. That's the kind of action and the kind of attitude that I hope we can keep alive, coming as it does on the heels of so many other encouraging signs in the Middle East.
Finally, let me say that they spoke of their common commitment to work in coordination with the Palestinians as this peace process goes forward. In this way, we can all act as partners with the Palestinians and work toward our common goals.
Let me say, personally, that I enjoyed this meeting very much. I applaud the crown prince; I applaud the foreign minister for coming here, for being a part of it. We believe that together we can work toward a peace that benefits everyone. And we believe there are things we can be doing now to benefit the countries and the peoples economically in ways that strengthen their inner sense of security and commitment to this remarkable process.
I'd like now to offer the microphone first to the Crown Prince and then to the foreign minister.
Crown Prince Hassan: Mr. President, Foreign Minister, ladies and gentlemen of the press: There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat.
The voyage we have embarked upon, Mr. President, is guided by important landmarks: the common agenda, including the rights of refugees according to international law; the Palestinian-Israeli Declaration of Principles and its implementation within the agreed timetable. But what is more important is the commitment to momentum. And participating today through your kind hospitality at the donors' conference, I was heartened to feel that the commitment to peace in the Middle East is truly universal. We hope that this commitment and this partnership can be maintained through your personal interest and guidance, Mr. President. And to that effect, I would endorse the fervent desire for realizing the functional role that Jordan seeks to play.
I am happy to welcome the concept of an economic working group within the context of our search for peace - the peace process - and, indeed, to commit myself to - wherever and whenever possible - furthering the humanitarian needs of people without discrimination in Jordan and in the Palestinian context and in the wider regional context. I hope that interstate agreements on these principles
these early functional steps - will lead in the months ahead and, indeed, in the years ahead toward the consolidation of a mutual understanding of shared peace in the regional community where hope is shared by all on the ground.
But I have to say, in a word of caution, to the people of the Middle East on the ground - in our cities, in our villages wheresoever and whomsoever they may be - in our refugee camps, in the occupied territories, and in Jordan; in Jerusalem where believers effectively of the Abrahamic faith share in the vision and the, hope for peace - that there is much to be done. And I believe that we have to commit ourselves to a work ethic for peace rather more than further opportunities to share before the camera our commitment in statements, which I hope will be realized through commitment and hard work on the ground.
I thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Foreign Minister.
Foreign Minister Peres: Mr. President, Your Royal Highness: I would like to thank you, Mr. President, first of all, for enabling us to return to what we used to be in history and to what we should be - neighbors in economy.
It is a very moving occasion, I think, for our people - I hope, for the rest of the Middle East. And under the very devoted and wise hand of the United States, I do believe that the two people on both sides will have today a new hope and a new opportunity.
We have had the same father, Abraham. We share the same river, the Jordan. We have the same sea, the Red Sea. We are sharing the same treasure, which is called, unfortunately, the Dead Sea. All these are historic treasures. They were blessed with holiness. Now what we want to do is to translate a great historic tradition into a new economic endeavor.
I think in a world that was so skeptical, the Clinton Administration and the people in the Middle East are trying to show that we can do it differently, better, movingly, seriously, with great hope and great depth. May the Lord bless all of us for serving him right historically as well as politically.
I would like also to thank the Secretary of State, Mr. Christopher, for trying, in his own quiet way, to help us to build a new, real drama in honor of our region.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.