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China snubs Swiss president

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The Swiss government says a planned visit by this year's president, Adolf Ogi, to China in September is in doubt.

A spokesman for Ogi said the president had received an official invitation from the Chinese government but that it did not include a meeting with the Chinese president, Jiang Zemin.

“Ogi will not go to China if he is not received by the Chinese president,” said Ogi spokesman, Oswald Sigg. “He’ll only travel to China if he can hold substantial talks with Jiang Zemin,” Sigg added.

Ogi was to have represented Switzerland at a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of Swiss diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic.

Sigg said the snub had nothing to do with a visit to Switzerland earlier this week by a delegation of exile Tibetan parliamentarians. China’s decision may have more to do with a state visit to Switzerland by Jiang one year ago.

At the time, Jiang was greeted by pro-Tibetan demonstrators when he arrived at the Swiss parliament buildings in Berne. In response, he told the Swiss government that Switzerland had lost a friend.

The Swiss foreign ministry has tried to play down the Ogi snub. “It has yet to be clarified whether a cabinet minister has to be present at the ceremony,” said ministry spokesman, Ruedi Christen.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR