Switzerland and Iran have decided to boost talks aimed at closer bilateral relations, including trade and human rights.
During a two-day visit to Tehran by a high-ranking Swiss delegation, President and Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann said both sides agreed a ‘road map’ for further talks on the ratification of a trade accord signed in 2005.
Notably the banking sector as well as direct air links between Switzerland and Iran are to benefit from an accord.
Speaking after a meeting on Saturday with Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, Schneider-Ammann stressed the importance of visa facilitation for businesses.
Both leaders said it had been agreed to launch a dialogue on human rights as part of planned political consultations.
Schneider-Ammann sees opportunities for Switzerland’s pharmaceutical, chemical and food industries as well the energy sector in Iran, he told the Swiss News Agency.
On Sunday, representatives of Swiss colleges and universities signed six cooperation agreements with Iran, potentially paving the way for Iranian students to apply to study at Swiss schools.
The visit by the Swiss delegation comes amid efforts to encourage investment following a nuclear deal between the six world powers and Iran and the lifting of international economic sanctions.
In January, the Swiss government decided to release Iranian funds of CHF12 million ($12.1 million) frozen in Swiss bank accounts.
Switzerland has represented the interests of the United States in Iran since 1980. It has also acted as Iran’s representative to Egypt and recently accepted a diplomatic mandate to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
However, Iran is still to appoint a new ambassador to Switzerland.
Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch and agencies