Israeli, Jordanian Scientists Conduct Research Along Border

Israeli and Jordanian scientists Tuesday collected samples of plants and microbes along the border near the Dead Sea, in the first scientific collaboration under a program meant to improve ties between the countries.

The research is part of Bridging the Rift, a New York-based project that is supported by the two governments and coordinated by American scientists from Stanford, Cornell and Harvard universities.

The plans include a joint science research center, the first such learning institution between Israel and one of its Arab neighbors. Israel and Jordan have agreed to move their borders by about two kilometers to accommodate the center.

"This (Jordanian) willingness to cooperate with Israelis is an ideal basis for creating understanding, trust, friendship and peace between our two peoples," said Mati Kochavi, an Israeli businessman who founded the project.

The center will offer doctoral and post-doctoral studies in several fields, including the biology of organisms in the nearby desert and Dead Sea.

Among the projects the center will undertake is "The Library of Life" - the documentation of all life forms on the planet with a high-tech program overseen by American professors.

American businessmen Mortimer Zuckerman and Stephen Ross are the program's executive directors. Stanford and Cornell universities are developing the education and research programs.