Politicians smoke "peace pipe" in tax tiff

A delegation of Swiss parliamentarians say they have had conciliatory talks with outspoken German finance minister Peer Steinbrück in an ongoing spat over tax havens.

This content was published on May 14, 2009 - 19:57

Steinbrück, who has made headlines over various remarks comparing his country's smaller neighbour to both American Indians and Burkina Faso, struck a more conciliatory tone during a meeting on Thursday.

"Mr Steinbrück assured us that he will keep his language in check from now on," said Maximilian Reimann, a Swiss senator who had donned a pin bearing the two countries' flags for the meeting.

"We have smoked the symbolic peace pipe," said Anita Fetz, a Social Democratic parliamentarian, after the hour-long discussion.

The German finance minister accepted that his comments had placed a burden on his country's relationship with Switzerland but reminded his guests that Germany loses more than €1 billion (SFr1.5 billion) annually through tax evasion.

According to Reimann, Steinbrück wants Switzerland to comply as quickly as possible with standards set out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The German finance minister is aware that the matter may not be settled until next year because of Switzerland's system of direct democracy.

Switzerland will only exchange information with Germany on a case-by-case basis, Reimann said. with agencies

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