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Ogi completes political talks in China

The Swiss President, Adolf Ogi, has completed his talks with China's political leaders, including the President, Jiang Zemin. Trade and human rights were at the centre of the discussions held to mark 50 years of ties between the two countries.

This content was published on September 13, 2000 - 21:02

The meetings have helped restore relations between the Swiss and Chinese governments, after a diplomatic row during the Chinese president's visit to Switzerland last year.

Jiang Zemin had strongly protested to the Swiss government about the presence of exiled Tibetan demonstrators outside the parliament building during his trip to Berne.

Today, all seems forgotten. Ogi was able to discuss both trade and human rights openly with Jiang, as he had the previous day with the Chinese prime minister, Zhu Rhongji.

The trade talks focused on China's attempt to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Switzerland is one of two countries, along with Mexico, which still has to approve China's accession to the organisation.

Ogi said that Switzerland intends to approve Beijing's membership as soon as possible. Discussions with China about its proposed membership will continue next week in Geneva, where Ogi hopes the remaining issues will be resolved.

Switzerland also believes China has made progress on the human rights front. Jiang did remind Ogi however, that his aim "was to feed and clothe 1.2 billion Chinese. Everything else is secondary, because only this can guarantee stability."

Jiang also pointed out that while Swiss democracy was interesting, there was no way it could be applied to China.

Ogi will now head to Shanghai for the cultural portion of his three-day trip to China. He will attend a performance by the Zurich Opera as well as other events that are part of Swiss Food and Culture Week.

These events overlap with a Switzerland 2000 exhibition where leading companies are promoting their products and services until Sunday.

swissinfo with agencies

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