Switzerland ‘deeply concerned’ about new Khashoggi details

The Future Investment Initiative summit has been branded as the “Davos-in-the-Desert.” Keystone

The Swiss foreign ministry plans to once again summon the chargé d’affaires of the Saudi embassy in Bern following new revelations about the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

This content was published on October 20, 2018 - 17:05

Speaking to the Keystone-SDA news agency, the foreign affairs ministry said that it would summon the diplomat for questioning on Monday, following the confirmation on Saturday by Saudi Arabia that Khashoggi had been killed in the country’s consulate in Istanbul.

The ministry did not comment on the alleged circumstances surrounding the journalist’s death, but said that “Switzerland expects, as soon as possible, answers to the open questions”.

After weeks of denial, Saudi authorities now say that Khashoggi was killed in a fight in the consulate, and that several senior officials have been sacked as a result. For its part, the Swiss foreign ministry underlined “the need for a detailed, rigorous, and transparent inquiry”.

It will be the third time in less than a month that the chargé d’affaires in Bern is to be summoned in relation to the disappearance of Washington Post journalist and Saudi critic Khashoggi, who was reported missing in Istanbul on October 2.

Delicate response

Asked about possible sanctions to be placed on the Middle Eastern state as a response, the foreign ministry said that Switzerland would follow the lead of the United Nations.

Switzerland may also consider toeing the line set by the European Union, it’s most important economic partner, when it comes to sanctions. So far, Brussels has not any introduced punitive measures as a result of the Khashoggi case.

As for a mooted trade-related visit to Saudi Arabia of incoming Swiss president and finance minister Ueli Maurer, the nature of the trip would be “re-examined”, the ministry said.

Saudi Arabia is a key partner for SwitzerlandExternal link in the Arab world and the Middle East region, with the 2017 trade volume between the two countries standing at CHF2.5 billion ($2.5 billion), according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

Swiss exports mainly centre on pharmaceutical products, watches and machinery; Saudi oil exports to European countries indirectly cover about 60% of Switzerland’s crude oil imports.

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