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Deiss in New York for talks on UN membership

Deiss will be discussing Switzerland's move towards full UN membership

The Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, is in New York at the start of a week-long trip to the United States. Deiss will be attending United Nations meetings and is expected to discuss future Swiss membership of the organisation.

Deiss’s official programme starts on Monday with a meeting of the UN Development Programme. Switzerland is represented on the body’s executive council and this year contributed SFr52 million ($30 million) to further its work.

Switzerland’s relations with the UN, and possible future membership of the organisation, will be at the centre of discussions on Thursday and Friday. Meetings are planned with the Swiss mission at the UN as well as with Security Council delegates.

On the other days, Deiss will hold discussions with francophone foreign ministers, meet members of the Swiss community in New York and hold talks with representatives of two Jewish organisations – the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League.

The importance to Switzerland of UN membership is underlined by the fact that Deiss is the second Swiss minister to visit UN headquarters in the past few days – the defence minister and current president, Adolf Ogi, addressed the Millennium Summit on Thursday.

Ogi used the occasion to stress that Switzerland and the UN share the same values of peace, democracy, and the respect of human rights. He also recalled that Geneva is the European headquarters of the UN, and that Switzerland is both a member of most UN agencies and contributes heavily to the UN budget.

Switzerland is due to hold a nationwide vote on UN membership in 2002. The last time the issue came to a referendum was in 1986 when it was rejected.

Opinion polls indicate that membership of the UN is more likely to be approved by the Swiss people in two years’ time than membership of the European Union – if and when that issue comes to the vote.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR