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G-8 security accord signed with France

Couchepin (right) discussed G-8 summit security with French president, Jacques Chirac in March.

(Keystone Archive)

Switzerland and France have signed an agreement on joint security measures for the Group of Eight summit in June.

The two countries will together provide security for the meeting, to be held in the French resort town of Evian-les-Bains on the shores of Lake Geneva.

Under the accord, each country will be responsible for security on its own territory, with shared responsibility for policing airspace and the lakeside.

France also pledged to contribute SFr18 million towards Switzerland's security costs.

Switzerland and France are each committing around 6,000 police to watch over the area during the summit from June 1 to 3.

In addition, Switzerland has said it will deploy more than 5,500 troops.

"We should be able to guarantee security," the Swiss president, Pascal Couchepin, said on Monday.

Protestors

The French town was chosen to host the summit due to its remote and relatively secure location.

However, Swiss officials fear that the meeting will attract some 300,000 protesters to the Lake Geneva region.

These estimates are based on the G-8 summit in 2001, which attracted hundreds of thousands of anti-globalisation demonstrators - some violent - to the Italian city of Genoa.

A number of diplomats and political leaders will stay in Geneva - one of the major cities closest to Evian and home to a number of international organisations such as the United Nations.

Officials have said that these factors are likely to attract protesters to the Swiss city.

They expect that the city of Lausanne - just 12 kilometres from the summit - may also attract anti-globalisation campaigners.

Representatives from canton Vaud's anti-globalisation group have said they are considering staging their demonstrations in Lausanne.

Airspace restrictions

The Swiss government has said it will close the airspace over Lake Geneva from May 31 to June 5, and flights to and from the regional airports of Lausanne, Montricher, Prangins and Bex will be restricted.

Model airplanes and paragliders are included under the ban.

In January the government closed the airspace over the city of Davos for the duration of the World Economic Forum.

In other security measures, the authorities said they would impose a daytime shipping ban on the Swiss side of Lake Geneva, and a total ban on lake traffic between Lausanne and Evian.

However, they said there were no plans to close motorways.

Couchepin - Bush meeting

Security costs for the three-day meeting of the world's seven most industrialised nations and Russia are expected to run to at least SFr40 million ($29.5 million).

Heads of state will be attending, including President Bush. He is due to meet the Couchepin on June 1, among other leaders.

The cantons of Geneva, Valais and Lausanne - which all border lake Geneva - have said they hope to limit security measures, to keep costs to a minimum. But between them the three Swiss cantons are expecting to fork out around SFr20 million.

The Group of Eight comprises the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia.

swissinfo with agencies

G-8 summary

Switzerland and France have agreed security measures for the G-8 summit at Evian on the French side of Lake Geneva.
Both sides are committing 6,000 police officers.
Switzerland is closing its airspace over Lake Geneva during the summit, and imposing restrictions on shipping.
Security costs are expected to total SFr40 million.
The summit runs from June 1 to 3.

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