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Delegates Convene in Tunis for Multilateral Talks on Water

Some 150 delegates from the Middle East and elsewhere met this week in Tunisia to discuss regional water problems in the framework of the Madrid peace talks.

The working group, which last met in June 1995 in Jordan, gathered Wednesday to discuss water management, conservation, data exchange and regional cooperation.

It is one of five multilateral working groups established after the 1991 Madrid peace conference to discuss regional development in the Middle East as well as issues relating to Israel and its Arab neighbors.

One of the projects discussed this week in Tunisia is a regional water data bank. The project, which has a $12 million budget, involved Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians.

In a separate development, three Tunisian officials arrived Wednesday in Israel to pave the way for the opening of their economic interest office in Tel Aviv, Shalom Cohen, head of the Israeli interest office in Tunis, said in an interview.

It remains unclear when the Tunisian office will open in the Jewish state.

The Israeli interest office, which opened last month in Tunis, is not proceeding with projects until the Tunisians open a Tel Aviv office, Cohen said.

But he said of the Tunisians’ visit, “It shows that they’re quite serious about the interest office.”

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