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Couchepin to hold first-ever talks in Lebanon

President Pascal Couchepin will travel to Lebanon for talks on Friday, the first time a Swiss president has ever done so.

The three-day trip is meant as a show of support for Lebanon's new president, Michel Suleiman, a former military commander who gained power as a candidate willing to compromise in May 2008.

Couchepin and Suleiman plan to have informal talks on political, economic and cultural cooperation at a retreat in Lebanon's mountainous region.

The Swiss president is also slated to visit a charity funded privately by the Swiss.

Switzerland is Lebanon's fourth largest trading partner, and the Swiss government said the countries share similarities including a common language (French), a multicultural society and service-oriented economies.


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