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Calmy-Rey pushes for closer ties with US

Micheline Calmy-Rey (left) meets Condoleezza Rice in Washington Keystone

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, on an official visit to Washington, has pushed for intensified bilateral relations with the United States.

During talks with her US counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, Calmy-Rey also expressed her concerns about the fate of prisoners at the Guantanamo base in Cuba.

The Swiss foreign minister said she had had a “fruitful” and “friendly” meeting with Rice.

“Together we managed to create a solid foundation for a future structured, dynamic and constructive dialogue,” Calmy-Rey told a news conference after the talks.

“Our bilateral relations are multilateral and cover different sectors.”

More coherent

She also insisted on the need to “structure and make more coherent” bilateral ties with Washington.

“We agreed to look for appropriate ways to increase and structure our cooperation in sectors in which we have mutual interests,” she added.

Calmy-Rey stressed that even closer ties with the US did not call into question Bern’s relations with its neighbours.

“The aims of the government and the policy towards the European Union have not changed,” she said.

Economics Minister Joseph Deiss is due to travel to Washington on July 20. Switzerland has just launched exploratory discussions on the possibility of a free trade agreement with the US.

US prisoners

Calmy-Rey affirmed that she had brought up the issue of prisoners held at the US base at Guantanamo in Cuba.

“I said that Switzerland felt very concerned by the fact that special categories of people called enemy combatants were not protected by the Geneva conventions,” she commented.

Calmy-Rey also met the new head of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz. She said that he had “congratulated Switzerland” for its initiative to return funds deposited by the former Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha.

“The Swiss government has clearly confirmed its will to return these funds,” she said.

Calmy-Rey is due to hold talks at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday with Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Among other issues, she will discuss Swiss proposals for reform of the Security Council.

swissinfo with agencies

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey is making her first official visit to the United States. The last visit by a Swiss foreign minister was in 2001.

Calmy-Rey met her US counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, and the head of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz.

She is due to visit the United Nations in New York for talks with UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

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