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Plain talking for Belgian royals

Queen Paola and the Swiss president, Adolf Ogi


King Albert and Queen Paola of Belgium have ended their two-day state visit to Switzerland with a meeting with SAirGroup's chief executive, Philippe Bruggisser.

No details were released about Wednesday's meeting at Geneva airport but it was expected to focus on Belgium's national airline, Sabena, which SAirGroup is due to take over.

Earlier, the royal pair travelled to Lausanne, where they visited the International Olympic Committee Museum and met IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Also on Wednesday, the King was given a tour around the building site of a new Alpine tunnel, while the Queen visited Bern's library.

The royal couple who arrived in Switzerland on Tuesday, were received in Bern with full military honours. They also met the Swiss cabinet, before going on to visit a delegation of Belgian expatriates.

In his speech in Bern on Tuesday, King Albert pointed out the similarities between Switzerland and Belgium, and paid tribute to the two countries' close relations. He praised the Swiss government for its humanitarian efforts and for trying to open the country up to the outside world.

For his part, Ogi said Belgium and Switzerland shared the same political and cultural values because both were multi-ethnic and multi-lingual.

King Albert was partly raised in Switzerland. He and his family spent the years after the Second World War near Geneva. His mother, Queen Astrid, died in a road accident in Switzerland in 1935.

swissinfo with agencies

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