The Swiss justice minister, Ruth Metzler, has called for talks with the European Union on closer cooperation in the fields of justice and police work. She said this was a condition for negotiations requested by the EU on customs fraud and savings tax.
Metzler was speaking on Tuesday during meetings in Stockholm with the Swedish justice minister, Thomas Bodström, and the International Development Cooperation minister, Maj-Inger Klingvall.
Relations with the EU were the main topic of discussion at the working meetings, as Sweden has just assumed the EU presidency. The presidency rotates among members every six months.
Metzler said closer cooperation between the two sides was important in order to fight international crime successfully.
She said Switzerland was also keen to work more closely with the EU on the issues of asylum and immigration.
The justice minister stressed in particular the need for an exchange of information regarding criminal activity, cooperation to stamp out the trafficking in people, and the need for EU member states to take back asylum seekers who have crossed into Switzerland.
Bodström said he appreciated Switzerland's position and would raise these issues with the other EU justice ministers.
At the talks, Metzler also raised the subject of Switzerland's possible future membership of the EU. She told her hosts that although EU membership was the government's ultimate goal, it did not believe in hurrying the issue.
Metzler said the government still intended to begin entry negotiations in the legislative period from 2003 to 2007.
Metzler was in Sweden to attend the second international conference against racism and intolerance.
swissinfo with agencies