Cablegate: Portugal: Science and Technology Subcommittee

DE RUEHLI #1321/01 1350818
R 150818Z MAY 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 06 LISBON 2162

1. In preparation for the May 18 Bilateral Commission,
Embassy officials met with Portuguese counterparts on April
19 to review bilateral science and technology (S&T)
cooperation. Discussion focused on Embassy organized
conferences, the Embassy Science Fellow program, and fuel
conversion at the nuclear research reactor. The Portuguese
delegation also provided an update on various initiatives
between the GOP and American universities. End Summary.

Committee Members
2. On April 19, Embassy Lisbon hosted the S&T Subcommittee
meeting in preparation for the May 18 Bilateral Commission.
The US delegation was led by Pol/Econ Counselor and included
Deputy Pol/Econ Counselor and ESTH Officer. MFA Interim
Deputy Director for the Americas, Manuel Grainha do Vale,
headed the Portuguese delegation. Other participants
included Sofia Seabra from the Ministry of Science,
Technology, and Higher Education (MCTES) and Rui Vallera from
the Luso-American Foundation (FLAD).

3. Pol/Econ Counselor opened the meeting by highlighting the
various conferences, all with a strong S&T component,
organized by the Embassy in March. The Embassy hosted an
Education Seminar, with former Governor Jeb Bush as the
keynote speaker, on March 2. On March 8, the Pol/Econ
Section and the Superior Institute of Agronomy organized a
half-day conference on biotech crops. USDA Embassy Science
Fellow Ann Marie Thro presented one of the sessions, speaking
on U.S. and EU regulation processes and the benefits of
biotech crops to farmers, consumers, the environment, and
developing countries. On March 19 and 20, the Embassy, with
the assistance of the Institute of Applied Science and
Technology (ICAT) and FLAD, hosted a two-day workshop on
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

Embassy Science Fellow Program
4. ESTH Officer briefed the Portuguese delegation on the
accomplishments of the Embassy Science Fellow (ESF) Program.
Since the last Bilateral Commission, the Embassy hosted two
additional Fellows ) Larry Suter from the National Science
Foundation and Ann Marie Thro from the U.S Department of
Agriculture. The current Fellow, Liz Williams from NASA,
will be in Portugal until May 27 focusing on public outreach
and promoting links between Portuguese institutions and NASA.
Pol/Econ Counselor noted that, due to the upcoming Portuguese
presidency on the European Commission, the Embassy does not
plan to host any additional fellows until January 2008.

5. As a result of the ESF program, several new S&T
cooperative initiatives have been launched. Discussions
between Kathleen Collins, from the National Institutes of
Health, and FLAD during her September/October 2006 fellowship
resulted in the creation of a three-year conference series on
tropical diseases. The conferences aim to bring together
American and lusophone researchers working on the prevention,
detection, and treatment of infectious diseases in Africa.
The first conference, focusing on tuberculosis, is scheduled
for October 2007 in Lisbon and will grant six 10,000 euro
research awards. Another new collaboration developed with
the assistance of USDA,s Ann Marie Thro concerns the
creation of a new rice germplasm exchange program between the
U.S. National Plant Germplasm System and Portuguese plant
research institutions.

Nuclear Reactor Fuel Conversion
6. Following procedural delays reported during the last
Bilateral Commission (reftel), the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA), the GOP, and the USG signed the Project
and Supply Agreement in December 2006 to convert the
highly-enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU)
at the Portuguese Investigation Reactor. On January 25, the
Council of Ministers approved the agreement, and it was
published in the Diario da Republica on April 5. The
Portuguese Technological and Nuclear Institute (ITN) and the
Department of Energy agreed on a new deadline of May 31, 2007
for the termination of HEU, with the conversion to LEU to
occur in June. Both sides expressed satisfaction that the
issue had been resolved.

Agreements with American Universities
7. The MCTES representative updated the S&T Subcommittee on

LISBON 00001321 002 OF 002

the status of collaborative university agreements under the
Prime Minister's Technology Plan. In October, Prime Minister
Socrates signed agreements with both the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT), focusing on engineering and
management, and with Carnegie-Mellon University, centering on
communication and information technology. The MCTES
Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) recently called
for nominations for graduate students to study in the United
States as part of the Portugal-MIT joint PhD program (Note:
FCT already funds 320 Portuguese PhD students and over 90
post-doctorates to study in American universities). On March
2, MCTES and the University of Texas/Austin entered an
agreement to collaborate on digital media and S&T
commercialization activities. Expanding the scope to new
universities, on April 16, MCTES signed a MOU with Harvard
Medical School to perform an assessment of possible areas of

8. The S&T Subcommittee Meeting yielded no surprises. Both
sides expressed satisfaction with the level of cooperation
and the number of activities undertaken during the last six
months. The Portuguese delegation strongly endorsed the
Embassy Science Fellows program but understood that the
demands of the upcoming EU Presidency would affect the number
of Fellows and the scope of S&T cooperation for the rest of
the year.

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