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Cablegate: Middle East Multilateral Working Group On Water

VZCZCXYZ0008
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #1586 0361419
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051416Z FEB 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHMS/AMEMBASSY MUSCAT 0000
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0000
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0000
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0000
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 0000
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 0000
RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0000
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 0000
INFO RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0000

UNCLAS STATE 011586

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL SENV XF MU IS JO JA KS NL QA KWBG
SUBJECT: MIDDLE EAST MULTILATERAL WORKING GROUP ON WATER
RESOURCES: EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING OF THE
MIDDLE EAST DESALINATION RESEARCH CENTER,
DECEMBER 16, 2007

1. 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 twenty first
meeting in Muscat, Oman, December 16, 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 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) The ExCouns reviewed the status of ongoing
activities, fundraising activities, and MEDRC finances.
MEDRC Director Koussai 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, MFA Under Secretary Sayyid
Badr, ExCouns Chairman, and Mr. Humaind Al-Maani, MFA; for
the U.S., Dr. Charles Lawson, ExCouns Vice Chairman and NEA
Senior Advisor for Science and Technology, and Mr. Kevin
Price, U.S. Technical Representative and Water Treatment
Program Manager, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; for Israel, Mr.
Yaacov Hadas, MFA Deputy Director General for the Middle
East, and Mr. Oded Fixler, Israeli Technical Representative
and Israel National Water and Sewage Authority; for Japan,
Mr. Hideki Yamaji, Japanese Embassy Muscat, and Dr. Totaro
Goto, Japanese Technical Representative and Advisor, Water
Reuse Promotion Center; for Korea, Mr. Jung-Soo Kim, Korean
Embassy Muscat; for Jordan, Mr. Fayez Bataineh, Assistant
Secretary General, Jordan Valley Authority; for the

SIPDIS
Palestinian Authority, Mr. Fadel Ka,awash, Director,
Palestinian Water Authority; for The Netherlands, Baroness
Henriette van Lynden, Director, North Africa and Middle East
Department, Dutch MFA, and Professor Jan Schippers, Dutch
Technical Representative and Professor, Water Supply
Technology, UNESCO-IHE Institute of Water Education; and, for
Qatar, Mr. Fahad Hamad Al Mohannadi, General Manager, Qatar
Electricity and Water Company. MEDRC Director Quteishat also
participated in the meeting.

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

5. (U) Concerning MEDRC's research program, Director
Quteishat reported that response to the 2007 Request for
Proposals for research projects has been sparse. MEDRC has
so far received only nine pre-proposals. ExCouns member
Lawson suggested that MEDRC take a more proactive role by
targeting topics of interest and reaching out to researchers
or institutions that might undertake such research.
Including the five projects so far awarded in 2007 (from
proposals submitted in 2006), the total number of MEDRC
projects awarded since MEDRC began operations now stands at
64, 34 of which have been completed. MEDRC's scholarship
program continues to expand, with MEDRC now having supported
12 Masters and 16 Ph.D. students. Demand for MEDRC sponsored
training courses also continues to increase. In 2007, MEDRC
sponsored five training courses, one in Libya, two in Jordan,
and two in Oman. Since the training program began in
September 2003, MEDRC has organized 31 training courses, with
over 1,000 experts from the region having participated.

6. (U) Quteishat reported that construction of MEDRC's
in-house research facility continues apace, with completion
scheduled for early 2008. (Note: The ExCouns met in a room
of the new building that had been finished just for the
meeting. End note.)

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

7. (SBU) Quteishat reported that MEDRC continues to pursue
additional governments to join (and contribute to) MEDRC.
Lawson reported that in discussions he had with Italian MFA
officials in Rome just prior to the ExCouns meeting, Italy
expressed interest in joining MEDRC and requested that MEDRC
submit a proposal on what Italian funds would be used to
support. Funds are likely to come from the Italian
Environment Ministry, and the Minister is particularly
interested in supporting Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian
activities. Discussions about membership also continue at
various stages with Germany, Spain, the UK, Australia,
Kuwait, Bahrain, Singapore, Finland, and Denmark.

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

8. (SBU) In reviewing MEDRC's financial situation, Quteishat
thanked Oman, the U.S., and The Netherlands for their
additional contributions in 2007 (the U.S. contributed
$350,000; Oman and The Netherlands each $300,000). The
Korean and Israeli ExCouns members noted that they are in the
process of finalizing contributions for this year. Quteishat
told the ExCouns that with those contributions, plus Qatar's
new membership contribution reported at the June meeting,
MEDRC finances should be satisfactory for 2008. He proposed,
and the ExCouns approved a budget for 2008 of $3.22 million.
Quteishat emphasized,though, that MEDRC would need additional
funds for 2009, and he urged members to make additional
contributions.

9. (SBU) In order to address MEDRC's long term financial
needs, Quteishat presented a proposal to establish a $100
million fund - the MEDRC Second Decade Water Fund - to assure
MERDC,s long-term sustainability. ExCouns Chairman Badr
announced that Oman would contribute the first $1 million to
the Fund. While ExCouns members recognized the need for
MEDRC to secure funding for the long term and generally
supported the idea for a fund, they raised many issues.
Japanese ExCouns member Yamaji suggested that MEDRC should
review its goals and objectives first to determine if it
indeed needs to raise $100 million. Lawson asked whether the
fund would be an endowment whose interest would be used to
support MEDRC activities or the $100 million would be spent
down. Quteishat said that no decision had been made yet on
that issue. Lawson also recommended that MEDRC consult with
an expert who is familiar with large scale fund raising
campaigns, as it will be no easy task raising $100 million.
At the end of the discussion Quteishat asked ExCouns members
to give the fund proposal further thought and provide
comments back to him.

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

10. (SBU) MEDRC is one of the only institutions established
under the Middle East multilateral peace process that
continues to operate to this day. Despite the modest budget
with which MEDRC has always operated, it has established
itself as a recognized international desalination research
institution. The need for additional funding is an issues
raised at every ExCouns meeting. The idea for a fund is an
interesting one, and a successful fund raising campaign would
help to assure MEDRC,s long term sustainability. Whether or
not a $100 million fund could be realized remains to be seen.
RICE

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