INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Second Techdel Boots Up Baghdad

Published: Mon 14 Dec 2009 02:55 PM
VZCZCXYZ0003
RR RUEHWEB
DE RUEHGB #3201 3481455
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141455Z DEC 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5718
INFO RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 2307
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0042
UNCLAS BAGHDAD 003201
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINT KPAO SCUL TINT PGOV ECPS IZ
SUBJECT: SECOND TECHDEL BOOTS UP BAGHDAD
REF: BAGHDAD 3074
1. Summary: S/P's Jared Cohen led a technology delegation to
Baghdad from November 22-24 featuring Google CEO Eric Schmidt along
with Silicon Valley venture capitalist Don Dixon, former Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace, and YouTube videographer
Sophie Schmidt. The delegation came to Iraq to meet key Iraqi
interlocutors and to laud the efforts made by Google and other
companies to support the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA)
Sections IV and VII. Google and others have worked with USG and GOI
over the past months to explore innovative ways to use technology to
help preserve Iraq's rich cultural heritage, improve transparency in
government, and help develop the IT sector in Iraq. End Summary.
2. The delegation of S/P Jared Cohen, Google CEO Eric Schmidt,
Trident Capital CEO Don Dixon, former JCS Chair Peter Pace and Ms.
Schmidt met with Foreign Minister Zebari (reftel), Deputy Prime
Minister Eissawi, the Minister of Communications and General Odierno
on November 22 to exchange views on how to improve Iraq's internet
and technology industry. On November 23, the delegation met with
troops on Camp Prosperity, participated in a roundtable with Iraq
Technology Task Force (ITTF) members and finalists for the Iraq IT
Interns program and attended a reception featuring 60 leading
contacts from the business, cultural and political spheres.
3. On the final day of their visit, the delegation visited the Iraq
National Museum. During short remarks at the museum, Google CEO
Schmidt announced that Google had imaged all of the artifacts in the
museum and that the images would be available to all browsers in
early 2010. The USG-led effort to make the Iraq National Museum's
artifacts available to all is in direct support of SFA Section IV to
encourage cultural exchanges and cultural preservation.
4. The Google delegation's visit received wide attention in the
Western and Arabic press. Almost all major television networks
including the pan-Arab al Arabiya highlighted Google's collaboration
with the Iraqi National Museum in an effort to help preserve Iraqi
heritage using modern internet technology. The state-run al Iraqiya
TV underscored the Museum Director's gratitude for the efforts of
this collaboration, Ambassador Hill's statement that the visit was a
sign of the U.S commitment to Iraqi cultural heritage and history,
and the uniqueness of this project in the region.
Internet's "Virtuous Cycle"
5. Schmidt's repeated message to GOI interlocutors, students, and
embassy officials was that internet access should be increased in
urban areas where potential knowledge workers lived. If an urban
university, with thousands of students and coffee shops nearby, were
wired, a self-perpetuating "virtuous cycle" could be created. The
cycle would begin when Iraqis created a business using tools readily
available on the internet and perpetuated when others joined in as
the potential for social and economic benefit became more and more
apparent.
6. Comment: The fact that Google CEO Eric Schmidt visited Iraq is
in itself a significant step forward toward attracting involvement
from U.S. firms and underlines the effectiveness of USG efforts to
engage IT companies. Next steps include capitalizing on this
involvement through subsequent TechDels and continued outreach to
the business community. On the cultural heritage front, the release
of the thousands of images Google engineers took in early 2010 could
spark heightened interest in Iraq's rich cultural treasures and
boost the chances for further public-private partnership in support
Qboost the chances for further public-private partnership in support
of USG goals as laid out in the SFA. End Comment.
HILL
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