March 10, 2008
JICA President Sadako Ogata was in Syria Monday (March 10) on the last stage of a nine-day visit to the Middle East.
Mrs. Ogata arrived in Israeli March 5 as part of Japan's continuing efforts to promote peace and stability in the region.
She held talks with Israeli Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, but her schedule was interrupted by recent violence in Jerusalem and other problems. A tour of the city was curtailed and a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority was cancelled.
However, Mrs. Ogata visited several projects in the region. The cornerstone of JICA's activities in the area is a project called the Concept for Creating the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity in the Jordan Valley, the key geographical landmark on the West Bank straddling Israel, Jordan and Palestinian territory.
Since last year JICA undertook three new regional agricultural and water schemes as part of the project-including two feasibility studies to establish an agro-industrial park in the Jordan Valley and a related water resource development plan and a third project to strengthen the support system for sustainable agriculture.
After her visit to Israel, Mrs. Ogata crossed into Jordan via the historical Allenby Bridge and from there she flew to the ancient city of Aleppo in Syria’s far north on the last leg of her journey which finishes March 13.
Syria hosts one of the largest refugee communities in the Middle East, including longtime Palestinian exiles and, more recently, tens of thousands of Iraqis fleeing the conflict in that neighboring country.
She will visit two refugee camps in Syria where Japanese volunteers are assisting UN authorities.
Her agency is also involved in other projects including water resource management and environmental protection, the strengthening of public services and of social and economic systems.