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News Turkey: Water deal with Libya would preclude future exports to Israel

A Libyan government delegation recently arrived in Turkey for discussions on the import of 100 million cubic meters of water annually to the North African country. Sources in the Turkish Energy Ministry say if an agreement is reached on the export of Turkish water to Libya, it will preclude the possibility of exporting water at the same time to Israel.

According to reports, Libya is planning to buy large quantities of water from the project set up by the Turks on the Manavgat River. The existing equipment at the project is able to load only 100 million cubic meters per year and investing in additional equipment would be extremely costly. Over the past decade, Turkish companies and businessmen have invested some $150 million in the project which has so far not been put into operation.

Israel has been negotiating the purchase of 50 million cubic meters of water annually from Turkey, with a contract that is supposed to cover a 20-year period. Officials in Ankara say they have received commitments from three Israeli prime ministers that Israel will go ahead with the deal - the last being Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who publicly declared Israel's intentions during a visit of the Turkish energy minister to Israel in August 2002.

The governments of the two countries were due to jointly seek shipping companies that could transport the water to Israel.

The Water Authority is believed to be in favor of importing water from Turkey, as a supplementary measure to water desalination, despite the high cost involved. However, the Finance Ministry is said to be opposed since the price of imported water would be about 80 cents per cubic meter, as opposed to 50 cents for desalinated water.

A Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem said the two sides had made headway in the negotiations and were currently working on two contracts, one between the governments and the other with the water carrier.

Meanwhile according to Israeli businessmen, Turkey has put on hold for one year its negotiations with Israeli firms due to participate in the GAP irrigation project in southeastern Anatolia.

Six Israeli firms won a bid for contracts worth $700 million. A spokesman for one of the companies, Merhav, said the six companies were awaiting developments. The project was being held up because of financial difficulties on the part of the Turks, he said. The cost of the entire project is $10 billion.

A Foreign Ministry source confirmed that Israeli companies had held advanced negotiations on the $700-million deal with Turkey but said parts of the project - including that in which the Israeli firms were involved - had to be postponed until Turkey could finance the entire project

Contact information n/a
News type Inbrief
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Source of information The Hareetz
Geographical coverage Turkey, Libya, Israel
News date 14/12/2009
Working language(s) ENGLISH