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Swiss-Korean ties marked ahead of summit

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter has met his South Korean counterpart ahead of an international summit in Seoul aimed at strengthening nuclear security.

This content was published on March 25, 2012 - 18:30
swissinfo.ch and agencies

Around 50 heads of state and high-ranking officials are attending the summit on Monday and Tuesday, including United States President Barack Obama and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

They will debate measures to stop terrorists obtaining nuclear weapons. Also on the agenda will be talks on how to avoid a recurrence of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

On Sunday Burkhalter met South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan to discuss environmental issues and the conflict with North Korea. For his part, he attempted to “calm the mood” amid North Korea’s planned long-range rocket launch in the coming days.

“South Korea is a little nervous,” Burkhalter told the Swiss News Agency.

The same day, the minister attended the start of Swiss Weeks in Seoul, a series of events organised to mark the 50th anniversary of Swiss-South Korean diplomatic ties and to celebrate the upcoming World Expo 2012 Yeosu.

Switzerland was the first European country to announce its participation in the world fair. A Swiss pavilion costing several million francs on the sustainable use of natural resources will go on show there from May to August.

Burkhalter’s visit will include a trip on Monday to the demilitarised zone separating North and South Korea to meet the Swiss delegation of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, which monitors compliance with the Armistice Agreement between the two Koreas. On Sunday, Burkhalter said aid was “still necessary” to help maintain the peace.

Further Swiss talks on bilateral issues are planned on the sidelines of the nuclear safety summit with officials from Denmark, Israel, Sweden,  Egypt, Argentina and Georgia.

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