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Archive for November 19, 2011

Newsline: Switzerland’s top diplomat sees no US decline

Foreign Ministry State Secretary Peter Maurer, who has been in Washington for bilateral meetings, continues to viewSwitzerland’s relationship with theUSas crucial. Maurer, who had been attending the annual gathering of the United States-Switzerland Joint Working Group, said that he did not believe in the widely-discussed US decline. The diplomat, number two in the Swiss foreign ministry, headed a ten-member delegation into “extensive talks” with members of the Obama Administration over a four-day period inWashington, with the last held on Friday. Most of the 25 meetings on the schedule were held as part of the annual gathering of the US-Switzerland Joint Working Group, a bilateral high-level forum launched in 2006. Maurer also held bilateral meetings with some of the most prominent foreign policy advisers to both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, including his US counterpart, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. Central to the special relationship between Switzerland and the US is the so-called protecting power given by theUStoSwitzerlandfor representing American interests in Iran and Cuba. He pointed to the recent agreement negotiated by Switzerland that paved the way forRussia’s entry into the World Trade Organization by removing opposition from Georgia. Last month Switzerland also announced that, upon request from both parties, it was hosting and “facilitating” high-level talks between the US and North Korea. For its part, the US State Department announced on Friday that it “looks forward to continued close cooperation with the Swiss foreign ministry on a wide range of issues and working to address global challenges jointly”. This visit is likely to have been Maurer’s last toWashingtonas State Secretary. He is set to replace Jakob Kellenberger at the helm of the Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in July 2012.