A ten-member Swiss delegation has spent the past ten days in Iran on a fact-finding mission to encourage cultural ties and to discover what roles women play in the spheres of education, politics and health services in Iranian society.
The Swiss delegation spent most of its ten-day visit in Tehran, but also visited two towns outside the Iranian capital.
"The aim of our visit was to further enhance dialogue with Iranians," said Anne-Marie Holenstein, who led the delegation in Iran.
"Most of the delegation members soon realised how their opinions [of the country] were distorted by stereotypes," Holenstein added.
"By going there and seeing what the situation is like for ourselves, we have seen another side to Iran."
Holenstein also pointed out how the role of women in Iranian society appeared to be at odds with the perception the delegation shared of the country before the visit began.
"Over the last few years," Holenstein said, "the country has invested a lot in the promotion of women."
A reciprocal visit by an Iranian delegation to Switzerland is scheduled to take place at the end of September.
The visits stem from an initiative by the Iranian president, Muhammad Khatami, who proposed to the United Nations the setting up of a year of dialogue between different cultures and societies, in a bid to promote peace and development during 2001.
swissinfo with agencies