Cablegate: Ambassador,S Meeting with the Tunisian Minister Of

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Summary: On April 15, the Ambassador met with Minister of
Transportation Abderrahim Zouari, with Robert Jubach of the
National Weather Service (NWS), and with Dr. Moncef Rajhi,
the Director of the Tunisian National Institute of
Meteorology (NIM) to brief him on a workshop NWS and NIM had
jointly conducted for approximately 100 Tunisians on weather
forecasting. Present were Kamel Ben Miled, MOT Director of
External Cooperation and Adel Ben Othman of the MFAs
America,s Desk. Participants discussed the goals of the
workshop and possibilities for future cooperation between the
two weather services. Jubach invited Zouari to visit the NWS
in the U.S., and Zouari expressed interest in visiting Boeing
in Seattle. On a related topic, the Minister told the
Ambassador that the GOT would like to see more US interest by
prequalified bidders on the project to upgrade the Monastir
Airport and build a new facility in Enfidha. End Summary.

2. A team of five National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) and National Weather Service (NWS)
officials conducted a workshop on weather forecasting for
approximately 100 Tunisians April 11-15, in collaboration
with NIM. Funding for the workshop was coordinated by the
Department of State OES in direct support of the Science and
Technology Agreement signed between the US and Tunisia.
Prior to the workshop in Tunisia, Rajhi was invited by the
NWS to attend an international workshop in San Diego.

3. The topics of the workshop were the institutional
structure of the NIM, their vision for the future, various
NWS meteorological and hydrological forecasting technologies
that could be transferred and applied in Tunisia, areas of
NWS technical assistance, and potential areas for
collaboration. The NWS experience in its own modernization
and in its supporting role in modernizing national
meteorological/hydrologic services in other countries was
highlighted in the workshop. On April 13, the NWS delegation
and NIM personnel went on a field trip to the northwest
Tunisia to visit meteorological observation systems at an
agriculture site and at the Tabarka airport.

4. Zouari thanked the Ambassador for initiating the
cooperation between the two weather-monitoring groups and
commented that the strange, unusually cold and rainy weather
Tunisia had experienced during the past winter had drawn the
attention of President Ben Ali. In response to the
Ambassador,s inquiry as to what the Minister envisions for
NIMs future, the Minister responded that he would like to see
a &more supple8 organization with less administration. He
also suggested having a U.S. expert come to Tunisia to work
with the weather service on a temporary basis. Mr. Jubach
said he supported this idea and that NOAA had agreements with
labs in the U.S., which might be able to provide an
individual. Rajhi added that the weather service was
interested in more cooperation and training in the fields of
weather radar, data communications, climate modeling and
forecasting, and a coastal monitoring system.

5. The Minister took the opportunity to remind Rajhi of his
end of April deadline to modernize the way weather was
presented in the Tunisian media. Rajhi promised he was
working closely with the Tunisian media to complete this
task. Jubach said the media was the most important partner
in the visibility and credibility of weather information, and
they would be discussing this further in the workshop.

6. Jubach and Rajhi said they would like to sign a bilateral
accord between the two groups to provide the framework for
future cooperation; Jubach explained that NWS often engaged
in collaborative programs with their foreign partners. While
they are willing to transfer software and knowledge, they
expect feedback in order to improve their own systems. He
invited Zouari to visit NWS offices in Washington and

7. The Minister said he welcomed the invitation, and added
that he was recently invited by Airbus to visit Toulouse and
would like also like to visit Boeing in Seattle. On a
related topic, he told the Ambassador that the GOT is ready
to select a company to complete a $500M upgrade of the
Monastir Airport and the construction of a new facility in
nearby Enfidha. Pointedly, he inquired to the lack of
aggressiveness by American bidders. (More will be reported
septel on this bid and the US participation.)

8. Comment: Significant floods in the fall of 2003 caught the
GOT unprepared but have served to focus attention on
Tunisia,s weather forecasting and management services. NIM
has historically used French equipment and expertise, but now
needs to upgrade neglected systems and equipment. It views
the recent successful cooperation with NOAA and NWS as a
means of decreasing reliance on French technology and taking
advantage of U.S. expertise. End Comment.

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