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Links to Apartheid South Africa to be investigated

The government has commissioned an in-depth investigation into the country's ties with Apartheid South Africa. The cabinet has earmarked SFr2 million for the research.

The decision on Wednesday follows debates in parliament last year initiated by left-wing politicians. They were seeking an official investigation similar to that being carried out on ties between Switzerland and Communist East Germany. But the assembly opted instead to call on the government to sponsor a national research programme on the relations.

The programme is to include several co-ordinated research projects to provide a more scientific basis for an evaluation of Swiss-South African ties during the Apartheid era. The government has specifically called for the relations to be analysed in an international context.

Switzerland refused to join international trade sanctions against the Apartheid regime in the 1980s, but condemned the system as immoral.

In its own investigation published last October, the Swiss government said that today, not taking part in sanctions against such a government could not be justified. However, it said that its decision in the 1980s was in accordance with the wishes of both the Swiss people and parliament.

A parliamentary inquiry into links between the two countries' secret services last December dismissed accusations that the Swiss had supported South Africa's chemical weapons programmes.

swissinfo with agencies

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