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Iran sanctions Top diplomat prepares lifting of Swiss-Iran embargo

Burkhalter (left) talking to his Iranian counterpart Zarif in 2013

(Keystone)

Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter says Switzerland will review its economic sanctions against Iran in line with Tehran’s implementation of an international nuclear deal reached last week.

“The government will examine it carefully and take its own decision,” Burkhalter told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

He said he was in favour of a swift suspension of the sanctions, which were first introduced in 2007 and gradually tightened before they were again eased slightly last year.

Burkhalter said the state secretary in the foreign ministry, Yves Rossier, would travel to Tehran this week for diplomatic consultations.

“The next steps will be decided after Mr. Rossier’s return,” he said.

Close contact 

Both countries are in close contact not least because of Switzerland’s good offices, according to Burkhalter.

In April, a senior Swiss economic delegation, led by former Swiss ambassador to Tehran, Livia Leu, travelled to Iran for exploratory talks.

The sanctions include the freezing of Swiss bank accounts as well as an embargo on trade in armament, gas, petrochemical and diamonds. However, trade in crude oil was not banned.

As part of its policy of good offices, Switzerland has been representing the interests of the United States in Iran since 1980.

Burkhalter said Switzerland’s expertise as mediator remained important, notably to build up trust, provide new ideas in negotiations and other forms of support.

He pointed out that Switzerland put forward fresh proposals when the dialogue between Iran and the six major world powers temporarily collapsed.

Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch


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