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Senegal seeks closer ties with Switzerland

The Senegalese president, Abdoulaye Wade, is hoping Switzerland will increase its aid to his country

(Keystone Archive)

The president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, is calling for increased cooperation with Switzerland. He met with the Swiss president, Moritz Leuenberger, in Bern on Thursday.

Leuenberger said after the meeting Switzerland and Senegal were "neighbours" culturally. Both countries have a democratic system and face the problems of a multi-lingual society.

Wade had said on Wednesday he hoped the Swiss government would step up aid to Senegal and support a regional African development initiative in agriculture, education, health, technology, trade, and debt relief as well as infrastructure projects.

Speaking in Geneva, Wade said he would like to see stronger trade relations between Senegal and Switzerland.

He also announced he was considering upgrading diplomatic ties with Switzerland by opening an embassy. At present, Senegal's representation in Switzerland is limited to a diplomatic mission at the United Nations in Geneva.

Agricultural aid programme

Switzerland has been involved in agricultural training projects and has helped to set up farmers' organisations in Senegal for more than a decade. The government spends up to SFr5 million ($3 million) a year on development aid for the west African country, according to the foreign ministry's Development Agency.

Several non-governmental Swiss aid organisations and charities are also active in Senegal.

In 1994, Switzerland agreed to write off SFr21 million of Senegal's debt and signed an accord aimed at promoting imports from small Senegalese businesses.

swissinfo with agencies

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