The foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, is leading the annual meeting of Swiss ambassadors to discuss ways to better represent the country's interests abroad.This content was published on August 21, 2000 - 19:37
In his opening speech, Deiss told the 118 ambassadors assembled in Berne of the need for Switzerland to play an active role on the international stage.
"Switzerland can play many different roles in world affairs. Foreign policy is concerned with humanitarian aid, human rights and commerce," Deiss said.
He stressed the need for Switzerland's foreign policy to be anchored in strong public support.
Deiss said that membership of the United Nations would be a good way to keep the lines of communication open between diplomats and citizens.
One issue at the top of the agenda is how best to promote Swiss exports. During the five-day conference, which started on Monday, the diplomats will discuss the international environment and sustainable development.
Later this week, the ambassadors will be focusing on Switzerland in the 21st century, and specifically how to foster greater integration with the outside world.
Closer to home, the diplomats will be searching for ways to reform the diplomatic service.
On Wednesday, the ambassadors are due to travel to different regions of Switzerland, including the two Basel cantons, the Emmental, Aargau, Lucerne and Neuchatel. They will meet the managers of small and medium-sized businesses, and take a fresh look at the key issues on the regions' political agenda.
Finally the president, Adolf Ogi, is due to take the ambassadors on a tour of his home territory, the Bernese Oberland.
swissinfo with agencies
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