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Couchepin and Ogi at odds over defence cuts

The economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, has called for cuts to be made in the military budget, just 24 hours after the defence minister, Adolf Ogi, rejected such a move.

The economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, has called for cuts to be made in the military budget, just 24 hours after the defence minister, Adolf Ogi, rejected such a move.

Speaking in the French-language newspaper, Le Matin, Couchepin said a planned reduction in the number of troops serving in the army should lead to long-term savings, although he accepted that in the short-term the military budget could stay the same.

Couchepin also said he would like to see the number of troops serving in the army reduced to just 120,000. Ogi wants the reformed army to contain around 200,000 soldiers, a figure Couchepin said he could only support if it was proven to be "truly necessary".

The economics minister argued that the risk of traditional warfare with Switzerland's European neighbours could be ruled out for at least the next 25 years.

On Saturday, Ogi told Le Temps newspaper that fewer troops would not necessarily lead to a cut in army funding. He argued that the need for modern, sophisticated equipment could actually see a steady increase in military spending.

swissinfo and agencies


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