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Cablegate: Middle East Multilateral Working Group On Water

VZCZCXRO1302
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHRO #2518/01 3621703
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281703Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY ROME
TO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1450
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 1365
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 0400
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0344
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9607
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 4589
INFO RUEHMIL/AMCONSUL MILAN 9176
RUEHFL/AMCONSUL FLORENCE 2836
RUEHNP/AMCONSUL NAPLES 2981

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ROME 002518

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL SENV TPHY XF IS JO KWBG UK EU NL SW
NO, IT
SUBJECT: MIDDLE EAST MULTILATERAL WORKING GROUP ON WATER
RESOURCES: MEETING OF THE REGIONAL WATER DATA BANKS PROJECT
STEERING COMMITTEE (EXACT) IN ROME, DECEMBER 10-11, 2007

ROME 00002518 001.2 OF 002


This cable is SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. Please handle
accordingly. Not for internet distribution.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The USG organized a Steering Committee
meeting of the Regional Water Data Banks project (known as
EXACT) December 10-11 in Rome. EXACT is a project initiated
under the Multilateral Peace Process Working Group on Water
Resources. The EXACT meeting brought Palestinian, Israeli
and Jordanian water officials together for the 25th time
since the project started in 1995; officials and experts from
the U.S., the UK, the EU, and the Netherlands, whose
governments all contribute expertise and resources to project
activities, also participated. At the invitation of the U.S.
chair, Italy, Sweden, and Norway also attended the meeting as
observers. In their executive session, the Israeli,
Palestinian, and Jordanian teams agreed on the importance of
continuing to work together on the project and pursuing
additional possible donors to support their various project
activities. The three core parties also agreed to meet again
in executive session in Jerusalem in late January to follow
up on a number of action items. The U.S. continues to play a
leading role in working with the three core parties to help
them develop their Regional Water Training Initiative. In a
separate session at the Italian MFA on December 12, core
party EXACT members provided a detailed briefing for Italian
MFA officials. Italy expressed great interest in joining
EXACT. During the December 11 EXACT plenary, Sweden and
Norway also expressed serious interest in joining EXACT. END
SUMMARY.

EXACT Activities Making Significant Progress
--------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) The Regional Water Data Banks Project (also known
by the acronym of its steering committee EXACT - EXecutive
ACtion Committee) consists of a portfolio of technical
activities undertaken by the three core parties - experts
from Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority - with
technical and financial support of the donor members. All
the activities are designed to build capacity and improve the
parties' technical capabilities to address a wide range of
water issues. Despite the difficult conditions under which
all EXACT activities have been carried out in recent years,
project activities have continued to make substantial
progress. EXACT members expressed the hope that with the
improved political environment post-Annapolis, more progress
could be made on EXACT activities in the coming months.

3. (SBU) The EU reported that it continued to work with the
core parties on developing a Decision Support System (a
computer program designed to help better manage water
resources), carried out training activities, and provided
laboratory equipment to the core parties. The EU delegation
noted that its current activities will end in August 2008 and
that it looked forward to working with the core parties to
develop a proposal for follow-on project activities. The
Dutch reported that they have continued to work with the core
parties to develop the water treatment and artificial
recharge sites in Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian
territories. The UK reported that it has continued to work
with the parties to define the pollution problems present at
the project sites and design appropriate mitigation
approaches. The UK also noted that it had just finished a
very successful regional experts workshop in the region.

4. (SBU) U.S. Chair NEA Senior Advisor for S&T Charles
Lawson reported that the U.S. has continued to work with the
core parties on their Regional Water Training Initiative.
The U.S. hosted an experts workshop at Lake Tiberias November
5-8 at which the core parties developed a draft work plan for
the initiative. The U.S. reiterated its commitment to help
support implementation of the initiative by offering to
support specific training courses once the core parties
finalize the work plan.

5. (SBU) As they have done at all previous meetings for the
past seven years or so, the core parties met by themselves in
executive session prior to the EXACT plenary. The core
parties reported to the donors at the plenary that they plan
to meet in Jerusalem in late January to follow up on the

ROME 00002518 002.2 OF 002


activities discussed at the plenary. They committed to
working closely with the EU to develop a proposal for a
follow-on activity supported by the EU. They thanked Italy,
Sweden, Norway for attending the meeting as observers and
expressed their great hope that the three would join EXACT.

Engaging Potential Donors
-------------------------

6. (SBU) In the several months prior to the EXACT meeting,
Italian, Swedish, and Norwegian officials expressed interest
to U.S. Chair Lawson in exploring the possibility of joining
the EXACT team. Based on that interest, Lawson invited
Italy, Sweden, and Norway to attend the December 10-11 EXACT
meeting as observers. All three sent observers, In
addition, at Italy's request, the EXACT team provided a
separate briefing on EXACT to Italian MFA officials on
December 12. As a result of EXACT's engagement with them,
Italy, Sweden, and Norway all expressed great interest in
joining EXACT. Lawson urged the three to each begin
discussions with experts from the three core parties to
develop proposals that the three governments could consider
supporting.

Comment
-------

7. (SBU) The warm and collegial atmosphere that has
exemplified the working relationship among EXACT members over
the years was in clear evidence at the December meeting. The
Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian EXACT members, as they
have done since the project started, demonstrated their
continuing commitment to working together on EXACT. The
EXACT mechanism, and its focus on technical issues, has
provided a forum over the past 12 years for continuous
Arab-Israeli cooperation even during times of regional
political instability.

8. (U) This message was drafted by U.S. Chair Lawson and
sent in coordination with Embassy Rome.
BORG

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