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Cablegate: Jordan and Syria Sign 12 Agreements to Boost Bilateral

VZCZCXYZ0011
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAM #0228 0221459
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221459Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1569
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 3777
INFO RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 1880
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3481
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0960
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 5736
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 2773
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 4796

UNCLAS AMMAN 000228

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECIN EAGR PREL SENV JO SY
SUBJECT: JORDAN AND SYRIA SIGN 12 AGREEMENTS TO BOOST BILATERAL
COOPERATION

REF: A) 07 Amman 4732
B) 07 Amman 4678
C) 07 Amman 3755
D) 07 Amman 668

1. (U) Jordan and Syria signed 12 agreements designed to strengthen
bilateral relations following up on the 12th session of the Joint
Jordanian-Syrian Higher Committee which concluded December 31. The
agreements address economic integration, trade, agriculture, water,
health, industry, transportation, services and labor issues, sports,
culture, youth, and the media. Jordanian Prime Minister Nader
al-Dahabi and his Syrian counterpart Mohammad Naji Utri lauded the
agreements and emphasized that each country would strive for
immediate implementation. To that end, they agreed to establish a
joint businessmen's council between their respective Chambers of
Commerce and Industry, and proposed timetables for some activities:
cooperation in housing and construction in 2008 and 2009; work on a
cultural and scientific cooperation agreement for the period
2008-2010; conclusion of an agreement on social affairs, labor
regulation, and vocational training by 2009; and an agreement on
sanitation and drinking water for 2008-2009.

2. (SBU) Previous meetings of the bilateral joint committee have
produced agreements as well as other initiatives addressing trade
and water-sharing. Those compacts, however, have been largely
symbolic and promised Syrian wheat has not materialized, in part due
to a poor growing season and also to Syria overextending itself in
terms of wheat export commitments (ref C). Likewise, Syria has not
met its commitments to contribute to filling the Al-Wahdah (Unity)
Dam. During talks the week of January 14 between USAID and the
Jordan Valley Authority (JVA), the JVA Secretary General lamented
that the Yarmouk River flow from Syria into the Wahdah dam continues
to decline. Over the past year since the dam first became
operational, only approximately 10% of its 110 million cubic meter
capacity has been achieved. Water Minister Raed Abu Soud sounded
cautiously optimistic over what he characterizes as an improved
climate for cooperation, however, noting to USAID that Syria also
has many competing demands on water resources and that his ministry
will carefully monitor the amount of water flowing from the north in
coming months.

3. (SBU) COMMENT: Despite concerns about water, the results of this
latest round of bilateral Syrian-Jordanian talks appear to be more
substantive and more focused on Jordanian priorities than previous
iterations, perhaps an outcome of recent, increased Jordanian
interaction with Syria. Skeptics, however, say success can only be
measured when Syria and Jordan streamline border crossing procedures
between the two countries, about which talks are underway. END
COMMENT.

Visit Amman's Classified Website at
http://www.state.sgov.goc/p/nea/amman

HALE

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