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Deiss seeks progress ahead of earth summit

Deiss says delegates face a major challenge at this year's earth summit

(Keystone)

The Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, is in Indonesia for preparatory talks ahead of August's earth summit in South Africa.

Delegates at the conference, which is taking place on the Indonesian island of Bali, aim to formulate a plan of action to take to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

Speaking to swissinfo before his arrival, Deiss said the adoption of a sustainable policy for the development of mountain regions would be a priority for the Swiss delegation at the conference.

"We think that the issue of mountain regions is important from social and ecological points of view, and this has until now been a little neglected," said Deiss.

"This can also be a very symbolic issue because we are in the International Year of Mountains," he added.

Other issues Switzerland is keen to see included in the plan of action prior to Johannesburg include management of the world's freshwater supplies and a reduction in global poverty.

Beyond Rio

Deiss said the major challenge for all those meeting in Johannesburg would be to go further than they did a decade ago at the first earth summit in Rio.

"It would not be acceptable to step back, but on the other hand we should not go too far and organise final statements which will not be implemented," said the Swiss foreign minister.

The success or otherwise of the Johannesburg summit, argues Deiss, can only be judged once the delegates have returned home.

"The most important element is that the outcome of Johannesburg is something which not only makes progress in respect of the present situation, but which is also realistic and will be possible to implement."

Visit to Japan

Deiss arrived in Indonesia after a day of high-level meetings in the Japanese capital, Tokyo.

The Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, met with Deiss to discuss issues such as humanitarian and development aid as well as the fight against terrorism and improving economic relations between the two countries.

Japan is Switzerland's largest trading partner in Asia. In 2000, Swiss exports to Japan totalled more than SFr5.5 billion ($3.5 billion), while Japanese exports to Switzerland came to almost SFr4 billion.

Deiss also held talks with his counterpart, Yoriko Kawaguchi, and Japan's deputy finance minister, Hidesha Otsuji, to discuss the Asian nation's economy and to push for improved access to Japan's markets.

swissinfo with agencies


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