U.S. President Bill Clinton was expected to meet Swiss government leaders on Wednesday. The discussions were expected to focus on the situation in Kosovo and bilateral relations between the United States and Switzerland.This content was published on June 15, 1999 - 11:52
U.S. President Bill Clinton was expected to meet Swiss government leaders on Wednesday. The discussions were expected to focus on the situation in Kosovo and bilateral relations between the United States and Switzerland.
Clinton was to meet Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss in Geneva, where the U.S. president also addressed the International Labour Organization on the subject of child labour.
With regard to Balkan reconstruction, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recently made clear that European nations would have to bear the largest share of the financial burden of rebuilding Kosovo because the United States absorbed the heaviest cost of the 78-day NATO bombing campaign against Serb targets in Yugoslavia.
Switzerland has pledged to continue its aid efforts for Kosovo, for instance in helping to rebuild a civilian administration in the Serb province. Switzerland – in cooperation with Russia, Greece and Austria – has already been providing emergency aid for victims of the latest conflict in Yugoslavia, as part of an aid programme named “Focus.”
Switzerland has felt the pressure of the massive refugee exodus from Kosovo. Switzerland's federal and cantonal refugee reception centers are overcrowded and still more refugees keep crossing the border.
In the coming months, the government is expected to introduce emergency measures which will allow refugees from Kosovo to enter Switzerland without having to go through the often lengthy asylum seeking process.
During her talks with Clinton, Dreifuss was also expected to discuss bilateral relations between Berne and Washington.
Those relations suffered a temporary setback over the Nazi gold scandal, which put tremendous pressure on Swiss banks to come clean on the issue of World War II era dormant bank accounts.
However, there were signs at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos in January that transatlantic relations were again improving, after Swiss banks and the World Jewish Congress agreed a compensation package over the Nazi gold scandal.
Talks between U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Dreifuss in Davos clearly succeeded in warming up relations again.
On Thursday, Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss and the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland Madeleine Kunin were expected to sign an accord on resuming a fulbright student exchange scholarship programme.
The United States suspended the programme in 1996 because of the Nazi gold controversy.
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