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Deiss advocates human rights in Pakistan

Deiss will meet his Pakistani counterpart, Abdul Sattar, to discuss joint development projects


The Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, has spoken in favour of human rights in Pakistan during talks with the country's justice minister, Khalid Ranjha, in Islamabad.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry said Deiss was particularly interested in raising issues such as the death sentence and the harsh punishment for blasphemy during the second leg of his week-long tour of Southern Asia.

Deiss will also discuss joint development projects when he meets his Pakistani counterpart, Abdul Sattar, later on Thursday.

Afghan aid

During his one-day visit to Afghanistan on Wednesday, Deiss pledged an additional SFr1 million ($600,000) in humanitarian aid for the country.

The Swiss government has already this year earmarked SFr20 million ($12 million) for specific humanitarian and development projects in the war-torn country, but Afghanistan's interim government welcomed the pledge of additional funds.

During his flying visit to Kabul, Deiss also found time to hold talks with the Minister for Women's Affairs, Sima Samar, and Mohammad Ismael Qasimyar, president of the Loya Jirga commission which is due to convene on June 10 to select the country's new government.

No meeting with Karzai

Deiss was unable to hold a planned meeting with the head of Afghanistan's interim government, Hamid Karzai, who was in Italy to repatriate the former Afghan king, Zahir Shah.

Shah returned to Kabul on Thursday after 29 years in exile.

One of the key priorities for the Swiss government, Deiss told swissinfo before his departure, is to try to link Switzerland's international aid effort in all four countries on his itinerary with closer bilateral relations on a diplomatic level.

Deiss will move on to Bhutan on Friday, before flying to India.

swissinfo with agencies

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