President Bush. Well, it was a special pleasure for me to welcome our good friend, President Hosni Mubarak, to the White House this morning. Our personal relationship goes back several years, from the days we were both Vice Presidents, then through my visit to Cairo in 1986, and then our most recent meeting in Tokyo in February. I am glad for this early opportunity to discuss with President Mubarak the vital interest of my administration in moving the peace process forward.
Egypt's pivotal role in the Middle East and our strong bilateral partnership remain key to achieving that goal. President Mubarak's visit is particularly timely. For over 15 years, Egypt has been our partner in the peace process, and 10 years ago, Egypt and Israel signed their historic treaty of peace. Egypt's continued commitment to expanding that peace is a source of great encouragement for all of us who seek a comprehensive resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The reemergence of Egypt as a respected leader of the Arab world attests to President Mubarak's statesmanship and ability, as well as to Egypt's wisdom in pursuing the path of peace. In our discussions, we spent a considerable amount of time talking about the Middle East peace process. We share a sense of urgency to move toward a comprehensive settlement through direct negotiations.
Ten years of peace between Egypt and Israel demonstrate that peace works, and it can work for Israelis and Palestinians as well. There's a need now for creativity, demonstrable commitment and the application of sound principles -- creativity in order to look again at old problems and then devise imaginative ways of solving them; commitment to face the challenges and risks of making peace rather than throwing up our hands and giving up; and adherence to sound principles, like the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. A new atmosphere must be created where Israelis and Arabs feel each other's willingness to compromise so that both sides can win. Violence can give way to dialog once both sides understand that the dialog will offer political gain. Egypt and the United States share the goals of security for Israel, the end of the occupation, and achievement of Palestinian political rights. These are the promises held out by a sustained commitment to a negotiated settlement, towards which a properly structured international conference could play a useful role at an appropriate time.
We also had a chance to review some important elements of our own bilateral relationship. They've been sealed at the highest levels, these special ties that we have with Egypt. They're forged by the global imperatives of peace, stability, and development in the region. They are strong and flexible, reaffirmed by every administration, and resilient to withstand turbulent times for the region and for the world.
President Mubarak enjoys our full support as he implements courageous reform measures to strengthen Egypt's economy for future generations. And under the inspired stewardship of President Mubarak, Egypt has grown in stature and in strength, and we in the United States welcome this development. We are proud of our partnership with Egypt, and I look forward to working closely with President Mubarak in carrying out our common vision of peace, stability, and development in the Middle East.
President Mubarak. Once again, I meet with my old friend, President Bush, in an atmosphere of genuine friendship and mutual understanding. I have known the President for many years, and I have always found him a man of honor and commitment. His vast experience and profound understanding of international problems have been skillfully employed for the good of his country and the cause of world peace.
Today we discussed a wide range of issues of common concern. Naturally, we focused on matters related to the bilateral relations and the situation in the Middle East. I'm happy to say that we concluded this round of talks with a note of optimism and hope. We are quite satisfied with the state of U.S.-Egyptian cooperation. Our steadily increasing interaction between our two peoples constitutes a cornerstone of the policy of our two countries. We are equally determined to cement this friendship even further.
As President Bush said, our commitment to the promotion of peace in the Middle East is a paramount one that takes priority over any other concern. To us, peace is not only a cherished ideal but also a practical necessity. We believe that the area stands at an historic crossroads that is certain to affect the future of many generations. It's our sacred duty to exert maximum effort in order to widen the scope of peace and remove the remaining obstacles to a just and a comprehensive settlement.
The past few months have witnessed several breakthroughs. The PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] has accepted unequivocally the requirements for peace. An Arab consensus has emerged in favor of peace and reconciliation. The United States initiated a dialog with the PLO, thus enabling itself to communicate directly with all parties to the conflict. A majority of the Israeli people is shaping up in support of peace. Worldly powers are adopting constructive policies designed to help the parties reach agreement. In short, the situation is right for an active effort more than ever before. The United States has contributed greatly to the process of bringing about this remarkable change. It remains highly qualified to play a pivotal role during the months ahead.
We found ourselves in agreement on most issues at stake. Together, we believe that for any settlement to be durable it should be a comprehensive one that addresses all aspects of the dispute, particularly the Palestinian problem. That settlement should be achieved through direct negotiations between Israel and all Arab parties within the framework of the international peace conference. The basis of the negotiation is Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338: the principle of land for peace, security for all parties concerned, and the realization of the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people. We are both opposed to the annexation of the occupied territories as firmly as we stand against any irredentist claims and vengeful acts. We reject the policies that result in the continuation of violence and escalation of tension.
I discussed with President Bush some ideas designed to activate the peace process and to facilitate starting the negotiations. On the other hand, we expressed deep concern over recent developments in Lebanon and agreed to double our efforts in order to help the Lebanese people put an end to their tragedy and resume their peaceful mission.
Last, but not least, we discussed certain African problems. And I was pleased to find President Bush aware of the urgent need for a concerted action on southern Africa and the debt problem.
Again, I enjoyed the meeting with our dear friend President Bush today, and I'm looking forward to pursuing with him our friendly talks tomorrow. Thank you.
Note: President Bush spoke at 12:10 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House, following a meeting with President Mubarak in the Oval Office. After their remarks, the two Presidents traveled to Baltimore, MD, to attend the opening game of the baseball season.