Turkey Says Its Water Can Boost Middle East Peace

January 17, 2000

ANKARA, TURKEY--Turkey said on Monday it
wants to boost the Middle East peace process by selling fresh water to arid
Israel and Jordan from its southern rivers.

"Turkey would be quite pleased to
contribute to the (Middle East) peace process by offering its water
potential," said Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Cumhur Ersumer.


Ersumer was speaking during a promotional
meeting to a Jordanian delegation led by Water and Irrigation Minister Kamel
Mahadeen to introduce a $147 million plant to provide 500,000 cubic metres of
fresh water daily.


``The waters of the Manavgat river can be
sold not only to Jordan but also to Israel, which has also showed serious
interest in our offer," said Ersumer.


Jordan can buy water to be shipped by
tankers from the Manavgat water treatment plant, 80 km (50 miles) east of the
southern resort city of Antalya, to Israel's Haifa port, then to be piped to
Jordan, he said.

Mahadeen said the Amman government would
assess Turkey's offer, but did not say how much water Jordan could purchase from
the Manavgat.


"Getting water from the Manavgat
project is very important for us and it is one of the options Jordan has been
thinking of for fresh water," he told the meeting.


DECISION TIED TO PEACE PROCESS

Dogan Altinbilek, head of Turkey's State
Waterworks Authority (DSI), said the plant could provide up to 250,000 cubic
metres of purified and 250,000 cubic metres of unpurified water daily.


"But I think Jordan would like to get
unpurified water as they have a purification unit in their country," he
told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting.


Israel will decide in April whether to buy
Turkish water, Altinbilek said.


"I think they plan the timing of their
decision in tandem with developments in the Middle East peace process," he
said. Water to Israel could be shipped directly by tankers.


Altinbilek said the Manavgat plant could
supply water to Libya, Malta, Cyprus, Crete, and Turkey's commercial capital
Istanbul, if requested.


Turkey's other fresh water project, dubbed
"Peace Water," also envisages supplying water to the Middle East from
two southern rivers, the Seyhan and the Ceyhan.


"Work on that project is also going on.
We can provide water from the two rivers to Israel and other nations in the
region," Altinbilek said.


Moslem Turkey has long been planning to
supply fresh water to dry Middle Eastern countries in a move to boost its
relations with Israel and Moslem nations in the region, saying water can be a
means for an Arab-Israeli rapproachment.


SOURCE: Reuters

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