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Breaking News

White House Press Secretary Holds News Briefing on Middle East Peace Talks

Aired July 24, 2000 - 4:41 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Bernard Shaw in Washington. White House spokesman Joe Lockhart holding a Camp David summit briefing.

JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: OK. Let me bring you up to date since we spoke last a few hours ago.

As I indicated this morning, the president, just before 11, went into the first meeting with the small group of negotiators. He had a series of meetings that lasted between 11 and 3. The president took a break at 3. I expect him to meet with the team within the next half- hour and resume the negotiating at roughly 6 tonight.

Our team, for their part, spent the break time together working through a number of issues. I talked to several of those on our side who are involved in negotiating. In addition to the intensive and substantive, they added that it was both exhaustive and exhausting. I think everyone is feeling the effect of some late nights, but they're still hard at it.

Other than that, the evening will be open. There, obviously, is a possibility for a number of meetings of different types.

We'll let you know before we let you go tonight.

QUESTION: Joe, can you fill in a couple of small blanks? Those series of meetings were meetings with mixed -- a mixed team of negotiators?

LOCKHART: They did things in a variety of formats, both separately and together between 11 and 3.

QUESTION: And you said this morning, they're working their way through all issues, is that still the case?

LOCKHART: That is still the case.

QUESTION: As the summit spokesman, you tell habitually that the president met with his people, but what have Arafat and Barak been doing? Have they been getting reports?

LOCKHART: They've been getting reports from their team and they've been meeting in a variety of formats with their own teams.

QUESTION: Joe, what's the latest on the rolling assessment?

LOCKHART: It's still rolling.

QUESTION: It's still rolling, but I mean has he decided -- has he come to a point where he would make another one in this rolling series of assessments? Are we still operating on a one front that...

(CROSSTALK)

LOCKHART: I think we're still operating from where we were this morning, that it's still constructive to continue these sessions. And, you know, I think they had almost four hours worth this morning. They'll go back at it this evening and we'll just have to see where they go.

QUESTION: Joe, with those extremely complicated issues, would it be fair to say that the lead negotiators are not keeping all the details in their heads, pieces of paper, on tables?

LOCKHART: Well, certainly people are taking notes.

QUESTION: Joe, what's the significance of the president's meetings with teams of negotiators and with -- and without the presence of Arafat and Barak?

LOCKHART: Well, I think the significance is that there are a number of issues, all of which have significant sub-issues and they're trying to work through to find areas of agreement.

QUESTION: Did you say the president's going to meet with the team, to resume the negotiations at 6. Is that the U.S. team?

LOCKHART: U.S. team, yes.

QUESTION: And then assess the evening. How close are they to getting a meeting with the president and the prime minister and Chairman Arafat?

LOCKHART: Well, they're in proximity very close. When we call and ask for a meeting, we generally get one. It's the question of what's the most useful thing to do. Right now we think working with the negotiating teams is the most constructive way to move forward, but I certainly wouldn't rule out that he'd sit and talk to the leaders tonight.

SHAW: White House spokesman Joe Lockhart speaking in Thurmont, Maryland with an update on the Middle East summit at Camp David between the Palestinians and the Israelis. He says that the talks are intense and substantive, exhaustive and exhausting, and they're still hard at it.

That concludes our coverage of Mr. Lockhart's remarks, and we go back to "SHOWBIZ" in progress.

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