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Swiss diplomats arrive in Baghdad

Switzerland has re-opened a diplomatic mission in Iraq, 10 years after closing its embassy in Baghdad. The two diplomats stationed there are charged with monitoring the humanitarian and human rights situation, as well as developing economic ties.

"They have recently arrived in Baghdad and have already begun representing Switzerland," said foreign ministry spokesman, Rolf Stücheli.

"Their top priority will be to find out more about opportunities for Swiss humanitarian assistance and technical issues."

Swiss humanitarian aid to Iraq in 2000 amounted to SFr24 million ($2.2 million). It was channelled through the UN's World Food Programme.

The diplomats will also work to promote economic relations with oil-rich Iraq.

Last November, the government announced it was opening a liaison office for economic and cultural activities, as part of a bid for closer diplomatic relations with Baghdad.

Switzerland is one of several countries that have shown interest in re-building ties with Iraq, in spite of the United Nations sanctions that have been in place since its invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Switzerland never severed its diplomatic ties with Baghdad, but closed its embassy for security reasons during the Gulf War in 1991.

swissinfo with agencies


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