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Nobel winners support weapons export ban

Two Nobel Peace Prize winners, South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Argentina's Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, have backed an initiative to ban Swiss arms exports.

The Swiss will vote on the proposal on November 29.

The pacifist organisation behind the initiative, Group for a Switzerland without an Army, released a statement on Monday saying it was surprised to receive the letters last week from Tutu and Esquivel, which arrived independently of each other.

"By halting its delivery of war material, Switzerland could make a unique contribution to support the peaceful and sustainable development of our planet and a shining example for other countries to question their export policies," Tutu said in a copy of the letter made public by the Group.

"I think it is vital that swords are beaten into ploughshares and awareness is raised of the necessity for the arms industry to convert to making products for civil use," added Esquivel in his note.

Meanwhile, Ruag, the state-owned technology concern with a large defence unit, said on Monday that it would have to shed up 2,000 jobs – or more than a quarter of its worldwide workforce – if the Swiss vote in favour of the ban.


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