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Cabinet opposes arms exports ban

The government says that it does not support a people's initiative calling for a ban on the export of Swiss military material.

A Swiss economics ministry statement said, however, that the cabinet was prepared to take a closer look at the current export criteria for arms, to ensure no controversial deals could be carried out in the future.

Critics have raised questions in the past over exports to both Chad and Pakistan.

The initiative was launched by Switzerland’s leading pacifist organisation, Group for a Switzerland without an Army, and is backed by a broad coalition of 35 peace and left wing groups and parties.

It wants to outlaw the export and transfer of all military materiel, including technology that can be used for weapons. The aim is to prevent Swiss armaments firms from bypassing the ban by producing arms abroad or having them produced under licence.

The cabinet said that it appreciated that human rights and common prosperity should be taken into account in arms exports. But it said that national defence and security issues, as well as the economic implications for the armaments industry should also be considered.

The initiative has yet to be discussed in parliament and will come to a nationwide vote.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR