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Cablegate: Middle East Multilateral Working Group On Water

VZCZCXRO6249
PP RUEHDE RUEHTRO
DE RUEHC #1591/01 2211753
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091747Z AUG 07
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHMS/AMEMBASSY MUSCAT PRIORITY 9365
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 0844
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 9858
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 4364
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 0293
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 9246
RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA PRIORITY 7962
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0361
INFO RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 2328
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 6452
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0798
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 8517
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI PRIORITY 5004
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI PRIORITY 6694

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 111591

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL SENV XF MU IS JO KS KWBG JA NL QA
SUBJECT: MIDDLE EAST MULTILATERAL WORKING GROUP ON WATER
RESOURCES: EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING OF THE
MIDDLE EAST DESALINATION RESEARCH CENTER,
JULY 11, 2007

1. (U) This cable is Sensitive but Unclassified. Please
handle accordingly.

------------------------
Summary and Introduction
------------------------

2. (U) The Executive Council (ExCouns) of the Middle East
Desalination Research Center (MEDRC) held its twentieth
meeting in Salalah, Oman, July 11, 2007. MEDRC, which was
established by the Middle East peace process Multilateral
Working Group on Water Resources, has its headquarters in
Muscat, Oman, and has been operating continuously since early
1997. Representatives of the U.S., Israel, Oman, Jordan, the
Palestinian Authority, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, and
Qatar (which joined with this meeting) constitute MEDRC's
Executive Council. MEDRC's activities are open to experts
and officials from throughout the Middle East and other parts
of the world.

3. (U) In their opening remarks, both ExCouns Chairman
Sayyid Badr and MEDRC Director Quteishat expressed great
pleasure in welcoming the Government of Qatar to the Council
as MEDRC's newest member. The ExCouns reviewed the status of
ongoing activities, fundraising activities, and MEDRC
finances. Quteishat reported that discussions with several
potential new member governments continue. End Summary and
Introduction.

------------
Participants
------------

4. (U) The following officials participated in the December
12 ExCouns meeting: for Oman, Amb. Sayyid Badr, ExCouns
Chairman and Omani MFA Under Secretary, and Mr. Humaid
Al-Maani, Omani MFA; for the U.S., Dr. Charles Lawson,
ExCouns Vice Chairman and NEA Senior Advisor for Science and
Technology; for Israel, Mr. Yaacov Keidar, Multilateral
Coordinator, Israeli MFA, Mr. Daniel Nevo, Israeli MFA (and
Keidar's successor), and Dr. Uri Shani, Israeli Technical
Representative and Director of the Israel National Water and
Sewage Authority; for Japan, Mr. Hideo Sato, Director, First
Middle East Division, Japanese MFA; for Korea, Mr. Sang-Wook
Kim, Korean MFA; Mr. Jung-Soo Kim, Korean Embassy Muscat; for
Jordan, Mr. Fayez Bataineh, Assistant Secretary General,
Jordan Valley Authority; for The Netherlands, Baroness
Henriette van Lynden, Director, North Africa and Middle East
Department, Dutch MFA; and, for Qatar, Mr. Fahad Hamad Al
Mohannadi, General Manager, Qatar Electricity and Water
Company. Palestinian Water Authority Director Fadel Ka'awash
could not attend the meeting due to a scheduling conflict.
MEDRC Director Koussai Quteishat also participated in the
meeting.

-----------------------
Qatar Welcomed to MEDRC
-----------------------

5. (U) At the opening of the meeting, ExCouns Chairman
Sayyid Badr and MEDRC Director Quteishat recognized the
Qatari ExCouns representative and welcomed the Government of
Qatar as the newest MEDRC member (Note: Qatar expressed
interest in joining MEDRC in 2006 and finalized all
arrangements, including depositing its $3 million
contribution in the MEDRC account, shortly before the July
meeting. End note.) Both also noted that MEDRC needed to
continue to expand membership in order to ensure its
sustainability.

----------------------------
Status of Ongoing Activities

STATE 00111591 002 OF 002


6. (U) Since the December 2006 ExCouns meeting, MEDRC issued
its 2007 Request for Proposals for research projects and has
so far received five pre-proposals. The total number of
MEDRC projects awarded since MEDRC began operations now
stands at 61, 33 of which have been completed. MEDRC's
scholarship program continues to expand, with each of the
five new projects that started in 2006 including a Masters or
Ph.D. student. To date, MEDRC has supported 10 Masters and
15 Ph.D. students. Demand for MEDRC sponsored training
courses also continues to increase. Since the December 2006
ExCouns meeting, MEDRC sponsored five training courses, one
each in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Jordan and Oman. Since the
training program began in September 2003, MEDRC has organized
29 training courses, with 994 experts from the region having
participated. Quteishat noted that the training course in
Libya, which took place in February 2007, and was
co-sponsored by the Libyan Petroleum Institute, was the first
MEDRC activity to take place in Libya.

7. (U) Quteishat reported that MEDRC has developed the
curriculum for an MSc program in desalination in Tunisia and
helped the Water Research Center at Sultan Qaboos University
in Oman develop MSc and PhD programs in desalination.
Quteishat also reported that construction of MEDRC's in-house
research facility continues apace, with completion scheduled
by the end of 2007.

-----------
Fundraising
-----------

8. (SBU) Quteishat reported that MEDRC continues to pursue
additional governments to join (and contribute to) MEDRC.
With Qatar now a member, Quteishat noted that MEDRC would
renew discussions with the UAE. (Note: During initial
discussions about a year and a half ago, UAE MFA Under
Secretary Sheikh Abdul Rashid Alnuaimi expressed interest in

SIPDIS
UAE joining MEDRC. However, ExCouns Chairman Sayyid Badr
decided to wait until Qatari membership was finalized before
following up with the UAE. End note.) Discussions also
continue at various stages with Italy, Germany, Spain, the
UK, and Australia. Quteishat said he believes Germany is
close to agreeing to join.

----------------
Financial Update
----------------

9. (SBU) In reviewing MEDRC's financial situation, Quteishat
emphasized that MEDRC's financial situation remains serious.
Even with Qatar now having contributed $3 million, Quteishat
urged other members to make additional contributions to help
ensure MEDRC's future. Oman, the U.S., the Netherlands, and
Korea agreed to make additional contributions before the end
of the year. Japan and Israel noted that they would have to
look into the possibility.

--------
Comments
--------

10. (SBU) Qatar joining MEDRC represents a breakthrough, in
that it is the first Gulf country to join since Oman signed
on as a founding member in 1996. Qatar's contribution to
MEDRC, along with contributions from some current ExCouns
member governments in 2007, will help ease MEDRC's financial
crunch in the short term. For the longer term, however, a
steady stream of new contributions - either from existing
members or from new members joining - will be needed to
assure MEDRC's sustained existence.

11. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.
RICE

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