The United States ambassador to Bern has called on Switzerland to take a tougher stance on Iran.
Donald Beyer told the Basler Zeitung newspaper that Washington had asked the Swiss government to adopt the sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union.
He admitted that Switzerland was in a difficult position, since it acts as a neutral mediator between the US and Iran. It has represented US interests in Tehran since 1979.
“But that is precisely why it is all the more important for Switzerland to back these sanctions. That would give a clear signal to Iran,” he said.
The EU and the US have imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme which they believe is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Iran says the programme is for peaceful purposes only.
Last July, the Swiss authorities announced they were examining the sanctions, which include a gas and oil embargo and restrictions on financial transfer payments from Iran.
So far Switzerland has banned the export of some war material to Iran in line with the United Nations’ call. It has also frozen some Iranian assets and has barred more than 30 Iranians from entering Switzerland.
In another development, the Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, has rejected allegations – made public in WikiLeaks papers – that she had annoyed the regime of former US President George Bush by insisting on trying to mediate with Tehran over its nuclear programme.
swissinfo.ch and agencies