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Merz "sees no reason to resign"

Embattled Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz has told Swiss television he sees no reason why he should stand down at the end of the year.

This content was published on September 17, 2009 - 20:32

The 67-year-old finance minister also said there was no reason why he shouldn't meet Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi at the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, following a recent diplomatic spat.

Dismissing calls for his resignation amid mounting pressure, Merz pointed out the "notable" results achieved by his department.

He highlighted the efforts made at implementing double taxation agreements to get Switzerland off an OECD "grey list" of tax havens, and the fact that the government's SFr6 billion ($5.82 billion) loan to UBS would be paid back at a value of SFr7.2 billion.

He even saw positive signs in the recent debacle with Libya – although he didn't want to discuss concrete measures.

On August 20 Merz caught everyone by surprise when he flew to Libya and apologised for the "unjustified" arrest in Geneva last year of Moammar Gaddafi's son and daughter-in-law, accused of abusing their domestic staff during a stay in Geneva in July 2008. The apology led to widespread criticism in Switzerland.

Merz said he had received verbal assurances that two Swiss businessmen held there for a year would be released by September 1. They are still in Libya.

On Thursday Merz believed he "hadn't lost face yet" but said more time and energy were needed.

He also didn't want to comment on his exact programme at the UN General Assembly in New York next week.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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