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Switzerland joins Nato virtual peacekeeping mission

Last year's "virtual" mission in Lucerne was hailed a success

(Keystone)

Switzerland is set to participate in a simulated peacekeeping operation with Nato on Thursday. Although not a member of the military alliance, Switzerland will for the first time join the annual crisis management exercise.

The chiefs of staffs from all 19 Nato countries and 14 partner nations will be faced with the task of keeping the peace on a fictitious island, Nogisland, for one week.

However, they will work from their own offices and no troops will be deployed.

The Swiss defence ministry said the exercise would entail planning a peacekeeping operation under a United Nations mandate. It said it would benefit Switzerland by giving participants first-hand experience in planning international operations.

The military officers will also be able to compare the operation with other missions that they have been involved in, such as the deployment of Swiss troops in Kosovo.

Last November, Switzerland participated in its first joint exercise with Nato forces. The "virtual" peacekeeping mission, which was part of Nato's Partnership for Peace programme (PfP), was held in Lucerne.

Switzerland took a small step away from its traditional policy of strict neutrality in 1996 when it joined the PfP in a bid to promote collective security in Europe, in the wake of the Cold War.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was founded in 1949 in a bid to ensure joint security through political and military means.

swissinfo with agencies


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