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Deiss pledges to continue giving aid to Ukraine

The Swiss foreign minister Joseph Deiss (left) with his Ukrainian counterpart Anatoly Zlenko Keystone

The Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, has assured Ukrainian leaders that Switzerland will continue providing aid for safety at nuclear plants and for the victims of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

After talks with his Ukrainian counterpart, Anatoly Zlenko, Deiss said: “Ukraine belongs to those countries in eastern Europe which are of great interest to us.”

He added that Switzerland spends about SFr4 million ($2.23 million) on aid projects in Ukraine every year. Most of these deal with education, health care, the environment, and building “civil society”, organisations and associations that are independent of the state.

They include a programme offering health care and psychological support to the victims of the worst ever nuclear accident, when a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded in 1996.

On the second and final day of his official visit to Ukraine, Deiss also signed two economic cooperation accords. They aim to boost trade and encourage Swiss companies to invest in Ukraine.

One of these covers double taxation, while the other concerns the movements of goods and people.

On the first day of his visit on Sunday, Deiss met the president, Leonid Kuchma, the deputy prime minister, Yuriy Yekhanurov, and the speaker of parliament, Ivan Plyushch.

He also visited a legal studies centre funded by Switzerland and met Ukraine’s justice minister, Syuzanna Stanik, to discuss improving judicial cooperation between the two countries.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR