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Couchepin joins European Bank for Reconstruction meeting

On Friday, Couchepin (left) was welcomed to Bucharest by the Romanian prime minister, Adrian Nastase

(Keystone Archive)

The Swiss economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, is attending a meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Bucharest.

Couchepin, who began an official visit to Romania on Friday, used the occasion to convey his support for the bank's future expansion into central Asia.

The EBRD is a multinational bank set up in 1990 to help former communist bloc countries to adapt to the global market economy.

Couchepin also took the opportunity to hold talks on the sidelines of the meeting with the president of the EBRD, Jean Lemierre.

During talks with Lemierre, Couchepin stressed Switzerland's willingness to work closely with the EBRD in the future in a bid to consolidate security across Europe.

Their talks also centred on fleshing out plans for a visit to Switzerland by Lemierre, scheduled for October of this year.

On Monday, Couchepin will join other members of the EBRD in discussions aimed at setting goals for the bank's 2003 action plan.

Switzerland is a founding member of the EBRD and is at the head of a voting block of countries made up of Liechtenstein, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The EBRD meeting comes two days after Couchepin held talks with the Romanian prime minister, Adrian Nastase, during which he pledged SFr4 million ($2.5 million) of Swiss funds to reduce pollution levels in Bucharest by paying for an upgrade of the city's heating system.

swissinfo with agencies

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