Calmy-Rey ends South American visit
Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has ended her South American tour, saying she achieved her goal of strengthening ties with the countries she visited.
Calmy-Rey met her counterparts in Argentina, Peru and Uruguay, during the first visit to the region by a Swiss foreign minister in nearly a decade.
Economic and legal issues – particularly double taxation and money laundering – were high on the agenda during the talks.
Referring to legal relations between Switzerland and the three countries, Calmy-Rey said: "Cooperation in this area is in our interest; Switzerland does not want to be misused as a financial hub to process dirty money from the arms trade or corrupt businesses."
She added that a treaty on legal assistance was likely to be concluded soon with Argentina.
Bern has already set a precedent for working together in this area – for example, the work the Swiss did in the case of the ex-president of Argentina, Carlos Menem, who was accused of fraud.
Regarding economic relations, Calmy-Rey said that trade between Switzerland and Peru, Argentina and Uruguay may not be "intensive", but is "stable".
On Monday, Swiss and Argentine officials announced that the two countries had come close to finalising accords on double taxation and legal aid.
An Argentine delegation is set to visit Bern in April to iron out the last differences in the agreement on double taxation.
During the six-day tour, she also met the Peruvian president, Alejandro Toledo, and was present at the inauguration ceremony of the new Uruguayan president, Tabaré Vázquez.
She also used the latter occasion to meet other Latin American dignitaries, including the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, and the Colombian vice-president, Francisco Santos.
The Swiss foreign minister said she discussed Switzerland’s efforts to help free hostages taken by guerrilla forces in Colombia with Santos. She declined to go into more detail.
The last visit by a Swiss foreign minister to the region was in April 1997, when the then minister, Flavio Cotti, visited Peru, Argentina and Brazil.
swissinfo with agencies
Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has ended a six-day tour of South America.
She visited Argentina, Peru and Uruguay, during the first such visit for nearly a decade.
Economic and legal issues were discussed, including double taxation and money laundering.
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