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Minister apologises for German "Taliban" remark

Swiss Transport Minister Doris Leuthard has apologised to southern German officials for comparing them to the Taliban in a row over noise at Zurich airport.

Leuthard made the comment during a discussion by her Christian Democratic Party on the challenges and opportunities of Swiss-German ties.

The authorities of the border town Waldshut in the region of Bade-Wurtemberg said they were “taken aback and disappointed” by the remark.

Leuthard told Swiss television she had sent a letter to the Waldshut authorities saying she regretted using the term. A spokesman for Waldshut said the apology had been accepted.

Leuthard however urged Germany to show a “constructive attitude” to resolve the dispute over late night flights at the airport.

She explained that in the four-year long row every proposal by Switzerland had been systematically rejected. Officials on both sides have said they want to resolve the issue by the end of the year.

Germany banned night and weekend flights en route to Zurich airport over parts of its southern territory in 2003. The development forced Zurich airport to redirect flights to its southern runway, passing over parts of the city and other densely populated areas of Switzerland. The Swiss have lost successive appeals over the German decree.

Zurich airport, the country’s biggest, is only about 20 kilometres from the German border. It is the home of Swiss International Air Lines. and agencies

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