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Deiss pledges additional funds for war-torn Afghanistan

Joseph Deiss (right) visits a traditional bakery in the Afghan capital, Kabul


The Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, has promised Afghanistan an additional SFr1 million ($600,000) in humanitarian aid.

Deiss made the announcement on Wednesday during a one-day visit to the Afghan capital, Kabul, his first stop on a week-long tour of South Asia.

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.

Karzai and his foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah, are currently in Italy, where they are preparing to repatriate the former Afghan king, Zahir Shah.

The 87-year-old former monarch is due to return to Kabul on Thursday after 29 years in exile.

Deiss is now headed for the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and will move on from there on Friday to Bhutan, before flying to India.

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.

swissinfo with agencies

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