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Swiss to help Romania cut pollution

Pascal Couchepin receives red carpet treatment before his talks with Adrian Nastase (left)

(Keystone)

Switzerland has pledged to help reduce pollution in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, by paying for an upgrade of the city's heating system.

The Swiss economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, announced on Friday during a visit to Romania that Switzerland would donate SFr4 million ($2.5 million) to help the city reduce carbon dioxide emissions from its heating system.

The money will count as part of Switzerland's contribution to the Kyoto agreement, which includes a series of obligations on the part of industrialised nations to cut emissions.

"This money will have a bigger impact here than back in Switzerland where our pollution standards are very strict," said Couchepin after a meeting with Romania's prime minister, Adrian Nastase.

Bucharest, a city of 2.5 million inhabitants, has a central heating system that needs to be modernised to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and sulphur.

Couchepin also discussed with Nastase ways of boosting economic ties between the two countries. The Swiss economics minister thanked the Romanian prime minister for his country's efforts to simplify administrative procedures faced by potential Swiss investors.

Switzerland is the eighth biggest investor in Romania. Last year, the Swiss government granted the Eastern European nation about SFr26 million in aid, as part of an economic stimulus package aimed at encouraging the export of goods to Switzerland from former Soviet bloc countries.

Trade between Romania and Switzerland was worth about $222 million in 2001.

swissinfo with agencies


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