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UN General Assembly Multilateralism in crisis, says foreign affairs minister

Alain Berset and Ignazio Cassis at the UN

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis (R) has been attending his first UN General Assembly along with Swiss President Alain Berset (L)

(Keystone)

Multilateralism is in crisis but remains important for Switzerland, Foreign Affairs Minister Ignazio Cassis has told the press in New York. 

Speaking at his first UN General Assembly, Cassis said multilateralism protects countries like Switzerland that are not big military powers. But he said he sensed a certain lassitude and inefficiency in international cooperation, which is why Switzerland is supporting reform effortsexternal link by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. 

To this end, Cassis on Wednesday signed an agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) providing CHF50 million ($51.76 million) per year of funding for the next three years, according to the foreign affairs ministry. Cassis said this was a sign that Switzerland believes in a multilateral approach, but also that he hoped the Swiss donation would help make the UNDP more efficient. 

Attending the UN General Assembly with Swiss President Alain Berset, Cassis drew a positive assessment of his numerous bilateral meetings. He said a meeting with his Russian counterpart had been “frank and constructive”, despite tension over a spying row. 

+Read more about Cassis, Lavrov and spying

Cassis also attended a conference on Syria, where he pleaded for a political solution to the crisis and recalled Switzerland’s strong involvement with helping the conflict’s victims. He said the Swiss humanitarian operation in Syria was the biggest in its history.   

SDA-ATS/jc

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