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Couchepin arrives in Turkey for talks

Couchepin's visit comes amid rising tension among the Kurdish minority Keystone

The Swiss economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, has arrived in Turkey for a three-day visit aimed at improving economic relations between the two countries.

This content was published on March 24, 2002 - 12:32

The talks will focus primarily on boosting trade between Turkey and Switzerland. Couchepin and a delegation of Swiss officials and businessmen will also assess the state of economic reform within Turkey.

Couchepin has expressed concern at the low level of international investments in Turkey and at the current economic climate.

"The high rate of inflation is major concern for the country," Couchepin said prior to his departure. "It's very hard on the population."

Couchepin is due to meet his Turkish counterpart, Kemal Dervish, in Ankara on Monday night, after a day of meetings between economic officials and business people from both countries. On Tuesday, Couchepin will hold talks with the Turkish Prime Minister, Bülent Ecevit, and the minister for foreign trade, Tuncay Toscay.

The visit comes amid rising tensions surrounding the rights of the Kurdish minority in Turkey, with Kurdish students demanding official recognition of their language.

"Obviously the human rights question, especially surrounding the Kurdish minority, will also have to be raised, either during official or private talks," Couchepin said.

swissinfo with agencies

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