Swiss foreign minister talks conflict prevention in South Africa

Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss, who is paying an official visit to South Africa as part of a three-nation African tour, on Tuesday co-chaired a Swiss-South African group discussing conflict prevention in post-apartheid South Africa.

This content was published on October 12, 1999 - 15:21

Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss, who is paying an official visit to South Africa as part of a three-nation African tour, on Tuesday co-chaired a Swiss-South African group discussing conflict prevention in post-apartheid South Africa.

Switzerland helped form the working group in order to assist the country in the process of introducing democratic reforms, which were launched after the collapse of white minority rule and the country’s first democratic all-race elections in 1994.

Deiss is scheduled to formally extend financial aid for pro-democracy reforms. The latest financial support package will total SFr35 million ($23.4 million) and is to run from 2000 till 2004.

Deiss’ talks with government leaders will likely also touch on the subject of Switzerland’s relations with South Africa during apartheid rule.

A recent Swiss report said that, with hindsight, the Swiss government had been too cautious in condemning white minority rule and apartheid policies while maintaining close trade ties with the gold and diamond-rich nation.

Tuesday’s discussions may further address the current trial of Dr. Wouter Basson, the head of South Africa’s apartheid-era chemical and biological warfare unit. Basson is charged with conspiring to commit 200 murders of anti-apartheid activists during white minority rule – a charge he has denied.

There have been allegations that the Swiss intelligence service hosted and worked with Basson.

On Monday, Deiss signed a SFr31 million ($21 million) accord in support of new health sector projects, road construction and debt buy-back programmes in Tanzania.

From staff and wire reports.





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