EU backs ‘science diplomacy’ in the Middle East

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EU backs 'science diplomacy' in the Middle East

EU funding has supported the opening of the SESAME synchrotron in Jordan, billed as the first major international research infrastructure in the Middle East.

Carlos Moedas, European commissioner for research, science and innovation, attended an inauguration event alongside King Abdullah II of Jordan and 300 policymakers, scientists and diplomats from across the region.

Mr Moedas said: “SESAME is the best evidence that science diplomacy is a driver of scientific and technological excellence and a powerful tool for improving relations across countries, regions and cultures promoting peace and stability in the region.

“As a universal language, science opens channels of communication and builds trust. I’m proud to see that the EU is supporting this important flagship of science diplomacy.”

Experiments at SESAME, which accelerates electrons to almost the speed of light to facilitate the study of matter, will support research in fields including medicine, biology, materials science, physics, chemistry, healthcare, the environment, agriculture and archaeology, the European Commission said.

The EU has so far invested over €15 million (£12.9 million) to its construction, mainly through the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and the European Neighbourhood Instrument, it added.