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Switzerland and Italy join forces to combat organised crime

Enzo Bianco and Ruth Metzler agreed joint crime fighting measures Keystone

Switzerland and Italy have agreed to cooperate more closely in the fight against organised crime. A series of agreements were unveiled during a visit to Bern by the Italian interior minister, Enzo Bianco.

This content was published on November 20, 2000 - 18:57

Efforts to curb cross-border smuggling were at the top of the agenda in Bianco's talks with the Swiss justice minister, Ruth Metzler, on Monday.

The ministers finalised plans for a Swiss-Italian police cooperation centre in Chiasso in canton Ticino, which is to begin operating next year. They also agreed that a Swiss police official would be stationed in Rome to facilitate cross-border cooperation.

"Switzerland intends to take an active role in the fight against the Italian mafia," said Metzler, after the talks. She added that Switzerland would extend legal cooperation to Italy in cracking down on cigarette smuggling.

The meeting marks a thaw in relations between the two countries, which were tarnished earlier this year after Italy accused Switzerland of not doing enough to clamp down on cigarette smuggling.

The talks also focused on the issue of illegal immigration, with both ministers affirming that measures to prevent illegal immigrants crossing from Italy into Switzerland were working well.

Metzler used the occasion to thank Bianco for Italy's speedy ratification of a series of bilateral accords between Switzerland and the European Union. Italy and Austria are the only two countries to have approved the treaties, which are due to come into force next year.

swissinfo with agencies

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