(Remarks by Secretary Cohen and Prime Minister Barak prior to their meeting in Jerusalem)
Barak: We are delighted to have you, Secretary Cohen, with us for a visit to the whole region. We highly appreciate the contribution of Secretary Cohen to the relationship between the Defense establishment of Israel and the United States: for his long-term support of the calls of stability and peace in the Middle East, through taking a strong, self-confident Israel that can stand here -- and as a result of being strong enough -- to be able to be restrained at the same time.
We especially appreciate your contribution to the support of the last few years of the Arrow activity and the anti-Katyusha, may I say, in defense of the North. We have here Mr. Arens, former Minister of Defense, and Mr. Mordechai, former Minister of Defense, and Mr. Ephraim Sneh, the present deputy of the Ministry of Defense, and Chief of Staff General Mofaz, and others from the Israel defense establishment. On behalf of the people of Israel, we are thankful to you for the great service you have made to your country and by doing this, for the free world and for Israel.
Thank you very much. [Editor's note: Barak presents Cohen with a certificate of trees that are planted in the Holy Land on his behalf, "a traditional symbol of peace."]
Cohen: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. Let me say, it is a pleasure for me to be back in Israel once again. I am now completing my ninth visit to the entire region and I have visited all the countries in the Gulf, plus Jordan and this morning, Egypt. I think all concerned want to see a secure and lasting peace for the Middle East. There is genuine concern that the violence can spread out of control, that the violence and the cycle of violence must be stopped, and that we have to get back to the bargaining and negotiating table to secure a fair and just and lasting peace. To that extent, you know, President Clinton has committed himself and his administration to being supportive of bringing about that result, and he will continue during the remaining days of his office -- his term of office -- to contribute all of his energies and support to help bring about a negotiated settlement, so that there can be a durable peace, and that prosperity and security can be for all.
I am here to pay my respects to the prime minister, to meet with my friends, Moshe Arens, whom I have known for many years, my friend Yitzhak Mordechai, and to say that the United States remains committed to the peace process.