|Wikileaks:||View 05CAIRO2792 at Wikileaks.org|
|Classification:||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY|
|Tags:||EINT ETRD KWWW PREL TINT EG|
|Redacted:||This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 002792 SIPDIS SENSITIVE FOR IRM/BPC/EDIP; ALSO FOR IIP, NEA/PPD, AND NEA/ELA USTR FOR SAUMS E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: EINT, ETRD, KWWW, PREL, TINT, EG SUBJECT: APRIL 3 VISIT TO ISMAILIA: "ACTIVATING" THE VIRTUAL CONSULATE REF: A. CAIRO 669 B. 04 CAIRO 1397 Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly. ------- Summary ------- 1. (U) The Charge on April 3 visited Ismailia, the Egyptian governorate with which Embassy Cairo cooperates in running an experimental Virtual Presence Post (VPP), or "Virtual Consulate" (reftels). The Governorate's expanded engagement with the project, coupled with enhanced participation on the part of various Embassy sections, made possible a mutually productive exchange between Emboffs and local government and business officials on ways to realize the VPP's potential for cooperation and communication between the Embassy and the Governorate. End summary. ----------------------------------------- Introductory meeting: activating the VPP ----------------------------------------- 2. (U) General Sabry Abdel Salam Ibrahim al-'Adawy, Governor of Ismailia, and his immediate staff received the Charge and Emboffs - including, for the first time as part of a VPP delegation, Embassy Commercial and Agricultural Attaches - in the Governor's office. The Governor emphasized his desire to better channel and develop Ismailia's potential for development in the industrial, agricultural, educational, and tourist domains, and explained his goal of using the VPP project to "market" Ismailia to investors. He also noted his interest in forming a computer center that would function as a one-stop shop for Ismailians interested in various e-government, Internet, and computer initiatives from across GOE ministries, and he hoped the VPP would be part of this. The Charge expressed his satisfaction with the progress to date of the VPP project and congratulated the Governor on the registration by the Governorate Data Center of the Ismailia official website in February as the VPP's local counterpart. The Charge and the Governor agreed that the Embassy and the Governorate of Ismailia must work together to activate the potential of the VPP for cooperation and communication, and the Governor was pleased to accept the Charge's invitation for Governorate personnel from the Data Center to visit the Embassy for mutually beneficial training and consultations. 3. (SBU) Comment: The GOE did not designate Ismailia as a participant in the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ) agreement signed in December 2004. Ismailian disappointment over the QIZ colored our preparations for the Charge's visit as several local officials demonstrated unusual, scarcely-concealed hostility during and following Emboffs' advance trip. We were pleasantly surprised that the issue did not affect the visit itself: although the Governor raised the issue, he did not blame the USG for the GOE's failure to designate Ismailia. He seemed satisfied with the Charge's explanation that USTR was aware of the GOE's interest in possibly expanding the number of zones in the future. End comment. --------------------------------------------- --- Expanded discussion of the VPP (and nothing but) --------------------------------------------- --- 4. (U) Following the meeting in the Governor's office, all participants moved to a larger conference room where representatives of the Data Center, the business community, and the media were gathered to discuss the VPP. The Data Center led with a presentation on the content of the Ismailia web site, demonstrating the progress the governorate has made over the course of the last few months. Data Center representatives expounded upon the potential use of the web site for investors seeking data, tourists in search of travel information, and ordinary citizens needing government services for paying taxes, checking real estate data, etc. Comment: The progress is nothing short of remarkable; the governorate had done relatively little on their end until the registration of the site in February. End comment. 5. (U) Post's FSN web master responded with a similar presentation on the VPP, after which the Charge invited meeting participants to express ideas on how to translate the VPP idea into more tangible benefits for the American and Egyptian people. Most speakers related their comments to the VPP, raising questions about how to advertise the VPP for U.S. and Egyptian audiences. Private business participants also focused on how to make appropriate Embassy contacts and establish relations with U.S. firms, whether via the VPP or otherwise; Embassy Commercial and Agricultural attaches were on hand to respond. The Governor kept firm control over the proceedings, dismissing questions from his constituents that strayed from the VPP discussion. 6. (SBU) Toward the close of the session, the Charge expressed willingness to take questions from the assembled press corps. However, when a reporter responded by asking a question about the USG "imposing democracy" in the Middle East, the Governor informed him that questions would be limited to the VPP issue, effectively shutting off dialogue with the journalists. ------------------------------- And now a word from our sponsor ------------------------------- 7. (U) Following the expanded session, the Charge took advantage of a one-on-one television interview to underscore his satisfaction with the VPP and touted the dialogue between Ismailia and the Embassy. He noted the importance of getting out the word on the VPP to Egyptian and American audiences and repeated the web address(http://ismailia.usvpp.gov) for viewers to log on. The Charge and Emboffs then proceeded from the Governorate headquarters to an Internet cafe, where television cameras recorded the Charge demonstrating how to use the VPP for a cafe patron and asking others questions about their use of the Internet. Note: Comparing March and April statistics to date, we have logged a 40% increase in daily hits on the VPP site since the visit. End note. Visit Embassy Cairo's Classified Website: http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/cairo You can also access this site through the State Department's Classified SIPRNET website. GRAY
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