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Deiss meets Kyrgyzstan's President

Joseph Deiss said Switzerland would increase its aid to the poorest layers of society

(Keystone Archive)

The Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, has held talks with Kyrgyzstan's president, Askar Akajev, on the fourth and final day of his sweep of Central Asian countries.

After meeting Akajev on Saturday in the capital, Bishkek, Deiss said Switzerland would double its aid to Kyrgyzstan amid mounting tensions in impoverished rural regions.

Bloody protests last month in the southern part of the country "are another incentive for increasing aid to the poorest layers of society," Deiss told a news conference.

The protests, in which five people were killed, were triggered by the jailing of an opposition lawmaker.

Deiss, who is the first Swiss foreign minister to visit Kyrgyzstan since its independence in 1991, said the country's dire economic situation was caused by its former dependence on the Soviet Union, as well as its lack of natural resources.

Swiss aid

This year, Swiss aid to the central Asian nation will total SFr16 million ($9.6 million). It is aimed at boosting health reforms, forestry, agriculture and regional trade.

Switzerland's foreign minister has been touring Central Asia over the past week to discuss bilateral cooperation with the leaders of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. His aim is to highlight the need for economic and political stability in the region.

Switzerland represents the three Asian republics at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). The government has spent around SFr107 million ($64 million) in development aid for the region.

swissinfo with agencies

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