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Calmy-Rey and Solana discuss global hotspots

Calmy-Rey and Solana are expected to meet again before the end of the year

(Keystone)

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has told European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana that reform in the UN Human Rights Council is a Swiss priority.

Calmy-Rey held wide-ranging talks with Solana in Brussels on Monday that also included the status of the province of Kosovo, the Middle East and Iran's controversial nuclear programme.

She said that states in the Human Rights Council all too often judged the human rights situation in individual countries according to their own foreign policy interests rather than sticking to the facts.

"We are fighting against the building of regional blocs in this organisation," she told journalists after her talks.

"Double standards have in the past undermined the reputation of this institution."

She added that "little steps forward" had been made but these were not enough.

Kosovo

Another focus of the talks was on the status of the breakaway province of Kosovo. Switzerland has repeatedly called for formal independence but Serbia, to which Kosovo belongs under international law, is against such a move.

Talks aimed at finding a definitive solution became tougher on Monday when Serbia called for the resignation of the UN's envoy on Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, who is preparing a report on the issue.

Solana has called for a delay in publishing the findings in case elections take place in Serbia in the near future.

"It would be unwise not to wait for these elections," Calmy-Rey commented.

On the Middle East, Calmy-Rey said Switzerland was "concerned" about the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories.

EU bilateral accords

Switzerland and the European Union have concluded two sets of bilateral accords following voters' rejection in 1992 of the European Economic Area ...

Hopeful sign

But she said reports that the radical Islamic Hamas movement was prepared to build a government of national unity with the moderate Fatah organisation was a hopeful sign.

On the controversial nuclear programme of Iran, Calmy-Rey said that everything had to be done to find a negotiated settlement. Solana has held negotiations on several occasions with the authorities in Tehran but to no avail.

Calmy-Rey emphasised that the EU was very interested in certain aspects of Swiss foreign policy, with Solana adding that the EU and Switzerland - a non-EU member - often worked well together.

"It [Switzerland] plays a very special role in different dossiers that is not very well known but which is positive and constructive," he commented.

It is expected that the two will hold further talks in Switzerland before the end of the year.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Switzerland was elected to the UN Human Rights Council with a three-year mandate on May 9.
It is one of 47 countries on the new body, which replaced the discredited Human Rights Commission.
The council, which stems from a Swiss initiative, meets three times a year, and can convene emergency sessions.

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In brief

There are 370,000 immigrants from the former Yugoslavia in Switzerland, of which 36% are from Kosovo.

Switzerland is committing SFr48.6 million ($38.7 million) to Kosovo this year.

The Swiss army has taken part in Nato's peacekeeping mission since the end of the war in Kosovo. It will stay until 2008. An extension of the mission will be decided by parliament.

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