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Swiss boost police cooperation with Italy

Switzerland and Italy have signed an accord aimed at fighting cross-border drug smuggling through increased police cooperation.

The agreement on police cooperation comes within the framework of the Schengen accord on the free movement of goods and people.

"Our aim is to strengthen the cross-border checks," said Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, at a joint news conference on Tuesday evening.

The two countries also want to work together against illegal migration and have decided to start a working group against organised crime.

Swiss Justice Minister Eveline-Widmer Schlumpf, who was on a visit to Italy, also discussed recent Italian tax raids on Swiss banks in the country that have caused an outcry in Switzerland.

Maroni said October's raids, which were part of an Italian tax amnesty, were aimed at fighting tax evasion, but Rome nevertheless wanted to preserve good relations with Switzerland.

Widmer-Schlumpf said that Switzerland respected Italy's position over the amnesty. "There is no tension with Italy, Switzerland respects the rules and keeps to the law," she said.

However, the tax issue remains a source of contention. Earlier this month Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz said he had halted negotiations on a double-taxation accord with Italy over the raids. and agencies


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