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06RABAT1457 2006-07-31 16:51:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rabat
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1. (C) Summary: The PAO and IO met with Wassane Zailachi,
Director of the North American, Mexico and Central America
division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on July 26.
The meeting included a discussion of the Middle East
Partnership Initiative (MEPI)-funded IREX regional project,
scheduled Public Affairs Section (PAS) press workshops and
the fall Fulbright Commission meetings. The following day,
in a separate meeting with A/Polcouns, Zailachi expressed her
concern about IREX and other projects which are being
implemented in Morocco without GOM involvement in project
planning. End Summary.

2. (C) On July 26, the PAO and the IO met with Wassane
Zailachi, Director of the North American, Mexico and Central
America division of the MFA. The purpose of the meeting was
to brief Zailachi on the MEPI-funded IREX regional press
activities, and the scheduled PAS press workshops and
Fulbright Commission meetings. Zailachi is aware that
freedom of the press and expression are significant issues
for the Mission. The Embassy routinely discusses with her
office U.S. efforts to support democratic reform in Morocco.

3. (C) The PAO introduced the discussion with a summary of
the upcoming PAS programs which are designed to build
confidence between the press and politicians, e.g., the
September "ombudsman" program. Training programs and
seminars being conducted by US nongovernmental organizations
(NGO) in cooperation with Moroccan NGOs, in particular the
IREX project, to encourage a free and responsible press were
also discussed. The PAO emphasized that the U.S. wants to
reach out to Moroccan NGOs and civil society to identify ways
the U.S. can support thier efforts to strengthn freedom of
expression. The PAO reviewed that the Mission's
understanding is that press training programs and seminars
are acceptable under Moroccan law, but that direct foreign
subsidies to the media are not.

4. (C) The PAO also discussed the upcoming (September 17
through 19) IREX Media Standards Conference to be held in
Marrakech, provisionally titled "The Future of Arab Media."
This conference will coincide with IREX's release of the
first Media Sustainability Index (MSI) report for the region.
Zailachi asked three questions: 1. Will members of the
government-owned press be invited or only private/independent
press members? 2. Will the conference have open
participation? 3. How have other governments reacted to the
conference and to the report? The PAO promised Zailachi that
PAS keep her apprised of any developments.




5. (C) Throughout the spring and early summer, Zailachi has
spoken frequently to Emboffs about how the MFA is striving to
understand USG funding sources, the amount of money the USG
provides to Morocco and the types of programs the USG is
funding. On July 27, A/Polcouns met with Zailachi separately
on other matters. During that meeting, Zailachi expressed
her concern about IREX activities. Zailachi would prefer
that programs be discussed with the appropriate MFA officials
prior to implementation. For her, discussion of programs in
the planning stages should take into consideration both
Moroccan and USG goals and interests. Zailachi emphasized
that it is important for the GOM and the USG to work together
to achieve goals. Her opinion is that IREX does not take
Morocco's particular needs into consideration and tends to
group Morocco with other countries which do not necessarily
have the same needs.
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