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Switzerland ready to mediate in Middle East

Dreifuss during her visit to the Middle East.

(Keystone)

Switzerland has repeated its offer to play a mediating role in the Middle East peace process. The Swiss interior minister, Ruth Dreifuss, made the comment at the end of a four-day visit to the Middle East.

At a meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, Dreifuss and the Israeli president, Ezer Weizman, said Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon and a planned resumption of peace talks next week in Stockholm provided an excellent opportunity for the region.

Dreifuss - who is Jewish - was awarded an honorary doctorate at Jerusalem's Hebrew University later in the day. The institution honoured Dreifuss for the work she has done for women and for her efforts in fighting racism and anti-Semitism.

On Saturday, she met representatives of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, as well as Palestinian parliamentarians.

Dreifuss talked extensively with the former Palestinian minister for higher education, Hannan Ashrawi, with whom the Swiss politician had worked on a project promoting human rights.

She began her trip on Thursday with meetings with Israeli ministers and officials, and on Friday visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

The Interior Minister's brief trip also included taking part in the inauguration of Israel's Swiss Centre, a research institute whose focus is on conflicts and how they can be managed and solved.

swissinfo with agencies

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