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Switzerland welcomes outcome of conflict diamonds conference

South Africa's Thibedi Ramontja outlines plans for the international certification of rough diamonds Keystone

Switzerland has welcomed signs of progress in international efforts to stop the trade in diamonds of dubious origin. Swiss delegates at an international conference said the meeting had agreed to introduce certificates of origin for raw diamonds.

This content was published on April 27, 2001 - 17:31

The framework agreement came after three days of talks in Brussels by representatives of diamond producing and importing countries. It is expected to form the basis of a formal treaty to be adopted in Moscow in June, paving the way for diamond certification to begin at the end of the year.

Certification is seen as curbing the trade in so-called conflict or dirty diamonds, as importers will be able to tell where all gems come from - even those imported from other non-diamond producing countries. Currently 98 per cent of all diamonds imported by Switzerland come through Britain.

But the head of the Swiss delegation, Othmar Wyss, said further measures would be needed if the trade in illicit gems was to be stamped out completely.

He said the next step would be to agree on introducing certificates of legitimacy for all diamonds produced.

Wyss said Switzerland had received praise from the conference for measures it had taken unilaterally to clamp down on dirty diamonds. They were introduced last month after the United Nations accused Switzerland of being a major centre for the illicit diamond trade.

"We introduced measures in Switzerland which go beyond the resolutions of the UN," Wyss told swissinfo.

"As of March 15 we have introduced new measures for free ports. All diamonds going in to and coming out of free ports have to be declared and have to give a country of origin," Wyss said.

swissinfo with agencies

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