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Britain soon to treat Swiss like EU citizens at passport control

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, left, assured Adolf Ogi that he would support Swiss ties with Europe Keystone

The Swiss president, Adolf Ogi, has obtained guarantees from the British government that holders of Swiss passports will soon be granted the same time-saving privileges enjoyed by European Union nationals when entering Britain.

The British prime minister, Tony Blair, gave the assurance to Ogi on Monday during bilateral talks in London.

Blair said that as soon as possible Britain would move to scrap the need for Swiss citizens awaiting passport control to join all other non-EU nationals in often lengthy queues.

Approximately 600,000 Swiss citizens travel to Britain every year, while about 500 Swiss companies are based there.

Their discussions in London also centred on the progress being made in the ratification of the bilateral treaties between the EU and Switzerland.

Following their talks, Ogi said the British prime minister would do all he could to ensure speedy ratification – not just in Britain but also in the other EU states this year so that the bilateral accords can come into effect on schedule in January.

Blair and Ogi also talked about political security in Europe, with particular emphasis on the situation in Kosovo.

The meeting came on the last day of Ogi’s three-day visit to Britain, his second this year.

swissinfo and agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR