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Tax issues dominate talks with Westerwelle

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has hosted her German counterpart Guido Westerwelle in Bern for a working meeting to discuss bilateral issues.

The pair discussed taxation matters, as well as the expansion of the Rhine Valley railway route, noise pollution near Zurich airport and democracy movements in the Middle East.

In a statement after the meeting, Calmy-Rey said the two countries remained committed to finalising taxation negotiations before the summer break.

“With the withholding tax model, a constructive solution has been found that protects the interests of both sides,” Calmy-Rey said.

The deal aims to impose a tax on assets held in Swiss banks by German clients. While the tax collected would be returned to Germany, the names of account holders would be withheld, thus guaranteeing banking secrecy practices in Switzerland.

Speaking to reporters, Westerwelle confirmed that the tax "negotiations are on track" and the talks had been conducted in an atmosphere of "mutual respect".  

Calmy-Rey called for work on the Rhine Valley railway to be completed on schedule. The line is an important feeder route into the railway that will link northern and southern Europe, for which Switzerland is currently building the world’s longest rail tunnel under the Gotthard.

She pointed out that the completed route would increase transport capacities, which will benefit the region and Europe as a whole.

Construction has been halted between the German city of Karlsruhe and the Swiss city of Basel over disagreements about the way it should be built.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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