Bern hosts Israeli foreign minister

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter welcomed his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman in Bern on Tuesday.

This content was published on April 24, 2012 - 21:16 and agencies

It was the first time since 2003 that an Israeli foreign minister came to Switzerland on a state visit.

According to a statement from the foreign ministry, Burkhalter said that “a just and lasting peace would be possible only through the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state with secure and recognised borders alongside Israel”.

The two officials discussed developments in North Africa, Syria and Iran as well as nuclear disarmament and the non-proliferation of weapons. Swiss-Israeli relations were also a topic.

Lieberman’s visit was controversial enough to provoke a demonstration organised by the Swiss-Palestinian Society.

About 70 people gathered near the Bundesplatz to protest Lieberman’s visit, arguing that he was living in an illegal Israeli settlement on the West Bank. They urged Burkhalter to receive Palestinian representatives as well.

The head of the Swiss-Israeli Society told the Swiss News Agency that it was important for Switzerland to maintain a normal relationship with Israel, and that this might help improve Palestinian-Israeli relations as well.

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