US embassy cable - 05CAIRO2792

APRIL 3 VISIT TO ISMAILIA: "ACTIVATING" THE VIRTUAL CONSULATE

Identifier: 05CAIRO2792
Wikileaks: View 05CAIRO2792 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Cairo
Created: 2005-04-11 15:20:00
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 
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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. 
 
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------------------------------- 
 
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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