King Abdullah, Swiss President hold talks focus on ME peace


“The talks will be followed by official-level consultations later to boost cooperation in different fields,” said Tanja Kocher, a spokeswoman who is traveling with the Swiss president. “Switzerland, which is keen to see peace in the Middle East, is a neutral country and not part of any alliance … the Swiss president has made it clear that it was part of his country’s tradition to offer mediation services.”

Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf received the Swiss president on his arrival on Saturday night. He later met Prince Naif, second deputy premier and minister of interior. Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal called on Merz yesterday and discussed a range of issues.

The two sides agreed to sign a new air traffic agreement by the end of next month. “The new agreement will help liberalize bilateral civil aviation traffic under which each side will operate more flights and have access to more destinations,” said Swiss Ambassador Maurice Darier.

“Issues to do with the inter-faith dialogue, the minaret initiative and important regional issues were also discussed by King Abdullah and President Merz,” said a press statement issued by the Swiss Embassy yesterday. The Swiss government is acting to avert possible damage to Swiss interests caused by a popular vote on banning the construction of minarets, it said.

The Swiss government has come out clearly against the anti-minaret initiative, said Kocher, adding that it is irreconcilable with several provisions of human rights agreements and would endanger religious tolerance. “The meeting with Prince Naif and Prince Saud served as an exchange on the questions of human rights, cooperation in international organizations and in combating crime,” said the statement.

Kocher said Merz discussed with the king measures taken by the Swiss government to boost the economy. “I can tell you that President Merz has wrapped up his visit with very substantial talks and full satisfaction,” she said.

On Merz’s talks with Prince Naif, she said, “Security matters, terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking figured prominently during the talks.” Switzerland, she said, has one of the tightest provisions in Europe with regard to the fight against money laundering.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *