Switzerland is officially opening an embassy in Nepal later this month, upgrading its cooperation office in the capital, Kathmandu.This content was published on August 5, 2009 - 14:09
The move coincides with the 50th anniversary of development aid cooperation with the Himalayan country.
"It is a gesture towards an old partner country and allows us to increase our visibility in Nepal," Martin Dahinden, head of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) told a news conference on Wednesday.
The upgraded diplomatic representation facilitates the visa procedure for Nepalese citizens travelling to the European single border area, including Switzerland.
The current honorary general consulate in Kathmandu has had a heavy workload as a result of the increasing number of Swiss tourists travelling to the Himalayan region.
A delegation of senior SDC officials is due in Nepal for a week-long visit ahead of the opening ceremonies on August 17.
Switzerland's official development aid in the region initially focused on cheese production, reforestation and transport infrastructure – notably the construction of suspension bridges.
The policy now includes professional training and seed production, but also human rights as well as peace promotion.
The programmes have helped boost Switzerland's image in Nepal, according to foreign ministry official, Martin Stürzinger.
He added that Switzerland has contributed to a peaceful solution to the conflict between the government and Maoist rebels and the transition to democracy in Nepal over the past five years.
"Switzerland provides expertise where required, but it is up to the parties involved in the current crisis to negotiate a solution," he added.
Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch
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