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Cablegate: Biosecurity: Everyone's Talking About It,

VZCZCXRO9219
RR RUEHDE
DE RUEHRB #0755/01 2260608
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130608Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8992
INFO RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 0420
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 4879
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 0623
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2413
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 0735
RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0870
RUEHMK/AMEMBASSY MANAMA 1044
RUEHMS/AMEMBASSY MUSCAT 0149
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 0708
RUEHYN/AMEMBASSY SANAA 1236
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 9704
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 0144
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RABAT 000755

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA/MAG FOR KAAILAU
INS/CTR FOR CHITTENDEN AND HICKOK
OES/STC FOR SENSENEY AND LAWRENCE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV TBIO TSPL MO XI XF
SUBJECT: BIOSECURITY: EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT IT,
INCLUDING US

1. (SBU) Summary: At least two separate USG-directed visits
will survey Moroccan biosecurity and biosafety legislation,
regulation, infrastructure and competence in late 2008.
Moroccan authorities welcome these separate visits and
additional opportunities to cooperate on biosecurity and
biosafety, which come at a time when they are in the process
of setting up their national biosecurity regime. Separately,
Morocco is also seeking a leading role in regional efforts to
improve and coordinate biosecurity and biosafety standards in
the Middle East and North Africa, and is beginning
collaboration with EU nations to guide its own progress. We
may have an opportunity to influence at an early stage
Morocco's international efforts and promote
biosafety/biosecurity to a broader audience. End Summary.

--------------------------------
We're Reaching Out to Morocco...
--------------------------------

2. (SBU) Post is currently assisting ISN/CTR and the
Moroccan National Institute of Health (INH) to arrange a
conference in Rabat for Moroccan officials and professionals
on biosafety and biosecurity on November 3 - 5, 2008 under
the Biosecurity Engagement Program (BEP). Moroccan
officials, including INH Director Rajae El Aouad, and
Director of Technology Zayer El Majid at the Ministry of
National Education and Scientific Research, are enthusiastic
about the conference and potential follow-on training.

3. (U) The Ministry of National Education alerted us to a
second USG visit that is scheduled for October 13 - 17. Two
experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the
Centers for Disease Control are expected to discuss
capabilities and preparedness in biosafety and biosecurity
with Moroccan interlocutors under the aegis of the office of
Policy and Global Affairs of the National Academy of Science
(NAS), in a visit that is being coordinated by the Ministry
of National Education.

-----------------------------------------
While Morocco Shapes its National Regime,
-----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) El Majid and his colleague Khalid Temsamani,
National Coordinator of Materials Science at the Ministry of
National Education and Scientific Research, told Econoff on
August 11 that Morocco is working now to implement its own
national biosecurity regime. The country's Council of
Government intends to take up in its September 8 meeting a
decision to create a "Biosecurity Committee" (and a sister
"Bioethics Committee") of which the Ministry of Higher
Education and Scientific Research will be the lead agency.
After the committee is established, Morocco will begin its
process of promulgating biosecurity regulations. The
Ministry's vision is to follow international best practices
in developing Morocco's own regulations and practices. The
Ministry has agreements in place with the European Union to
identify partner countries to assist and model their
regulations and practices for Morocco, starting in November
2008.

--------------------------------
And Reaches Out to its Neighbors
--------------------------------

5. (SBU) Temsamani noted that Morocco intends to use its
progress in the implementation of a biosafety/biosecurity
strategy as a model for other Middle East/North Africa (MENA)
states, and that it is seeking to take a leading role in
regional efforts to address the issue. El Majid and
Temsamani outlined Morocco's ongoing and future participation
in a MENA initiative on biosafety and biosecurity. Temsamani

RABAT 00000755 002 OF 002


told us that Morocco first participated in a February 2007
round table discussion on dual use life science technologies
organized for MENA countries by the U.S.'s National Science
Advisory Board on Biotechnology (NSABB - located in the
National Institutes of Health, Office of Biotechnology
Activity).

6. (SBU) The NSABB roundtable was followed by the "Biosafety
and Biosecurity International 2007" conference in Abu Dhabi,
an initiative apparently spearheaded by the Washington-based
International Council for Life Sciences (ICLS) along with the
Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi. Morocco will host the
follow-on "Biosafety and Biosecurity International 2009"
conference in Casablanca in April 2009. In preparation for
the 2009 conference, Morocco convened in May 2008 a "core
group" of participating countries to draft a biosafety and
biosecurity strategy for the MENA region. Temsamani, who is
is Morocco's national coordinator for this international
collaboration, was unable to provide the draft to us as it
will not be released until the April 2009 conference, but was
open to exploring possibilities for USG-Moroccan cooperation
surrounding the event.

-----------------
Looking for Money
-----------------

7. (SBU) Temsamani noted that Morocco anticipates a budget
of USD 330,000 for the April 2009 conference, with only a
portion covered by his Ministry and the governments of the
UAE and Jordan. He intends to request funding from the
Islamic Development Bank, and the Islamic Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO). Temsamani
asked us if the USG could consider financially sponsoring the
Biosafety and Biosecurity International 2009 conference as
well, and stated that he and El Majid would coordinate with
Morocco's foreign ministry regarding an official request.

--------
Comment:
--------

8. (SBU) Morocco's efforts to get its biosecurity house in
order and position itself as a regional leader suggest an
opportunity to leverage our involvement and capabilities
under the ISN/CTR BEP model to influence a broader MENA
audience in promoting biosecurity and biosafety. With a
November 2008 kickoff to BEP activities and the proposed
rollout in April 2009 of the draft strategy, we would need to
work quickly to engage both the Moroccan entities and other
countries involved in the international effort. We at post
are unfamiliar with the overall goals of the Biosecurity and
Biosafety International conference, and those of the ICLS,
its organizer. Other conference participants in the 2007 and
presumably 2009 conferences include agencies from Syria and
Iran, so there may be additional sensitivities and limits to
how far the USG could engage. However, this conference may
be an opportunity to rapidly expand our biosecurity
engagement efforts beyond Morocco, a possibility ISN/CTR and
other visitors may wish to explore with their Moroccan
counterparts during their upcoming visits. End Comment.


*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat
*****************************************

Riley

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