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Foreign Minister Deiss pays official visit to South Africa

After a first stop in Tanzania, Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss is continuing his African tour with a visit to South Africa, where Switzerland has actively supported post-apartheid democratic reforms.

This content was published on October 11, 1999 - 16:43

After a first stop in Tanzania, Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss is continuing his African tour with a visit to South Africa, where Switzerland has actively supported post-apartheid democratic reforms.

Deiss is expected to meet high-ranking government ministers on Tuesday and is scheduled to co-chair a Swiss-South African working group on conflict prevention in Johannesburg.

Deiss is also scheduled to formally extend financial aid for a Swiss pro-democracy support programme that was set up after South Africa’s first democratic all-race elections in 1994.

The programme will run from 2000 till 2004 and will see Swiss support to the tune of SFr35 million ($23.4 million).

Discussion may also touch on the subject of Switzerland’s relations with South Africa during the country’s apartheid rule.

A recently Swiss report said that, with hindsight, the Swiss government had been too cautious in condemning white minority rule and apartheid policies while maintaining close trade ties with the gold and diamond-rich nation.

Deiss’ talks with government leaders may also address the current trial of Dr. Wouter Basson, the head of South Africa’s apartheid-era chemical and biological warfare unit. Basson is charged with conspiring to commit 200 murders of anti-apartheid activists during white minority rule – a charge he has denied.

There have been allegations that the Swiss intelligence service hosted and worked with Basson.

Earlier Monday in Tanzania, Deiss signed a SFr31 million ($21 million) accord in support of new health sector projects, road construction and debt buy-back programmes.

From staff and wire reports.

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