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Government parties meet despite row

Switzerland's government parties are meeting today to discuss forthcoming business, despite a row between two of them, the Social Democrats and the right-wing People's Party, which has disrupted preparations for the meeting.

Over the past four days, the two centre-right parties in the government, the Radicals and the Christian Democrats, have been trying to play the role of peace-maker.

Their leaders met the Social Democrats on Monday and held separate talks with the People's Party on Thursday, in an attempt to end the row and to prepare Friday's meeting between all four government parties in Berne.

The meeting is known traditionally as the von Wattenwyl talks, at which party leaders usually try to find a consensus on forthcoming government business.

The general-secretary of the Radicals, Johannes Matyassy, said on Thursday the separate meetings with the Social Democrats and People's Party had concentrated on the issues of old age pensions, asylum policy and the sale of excess gold held by the National bank.

However, he indicated there was no end to the row between the two parties.

The Social Democrats walked out of the von Wattenwyl talks earlier this year in protest at an allegation by the People's Party's leading figure, Christoph Blocher, that the Social Democrats had similarities to the Fascists during the second world war.

They have demanded the People's Party distance itself from the allegation, but this has not happened.

swissinfo with agencies

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