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Swiss ministers hold top-level meetings in Davos

 
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 PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2004 8:45 pm    Post subject: Swiss ministers hold top-level meetings in Davos Reply with quote Back to top

Swissinfo, Switzerland
Jan 25 2004

Swiss ministers hold top-level meetings in Davos

Swiss ministers have used the World Economic Forum summit in Davos
for a series of high-level talks with world leaders.

On Saturday, the Swiss president held meetings with the United States
vice president Dick Cheney and the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip
Erdogan.

Deiss said he used his 30-minute talk with Cheney to lobby on behalf
of Swiss firms competing for lucrative contracts for the
re-construction of Iraq.

Although Deiss said Cheney made it clear that Swiss firms would not
get any priority, their participation was not out of the question.

`From the American point-of-view, there is room for every useful form
of participation [by Swiss firms in Iraq],' Deiss said.

Deiss also said he - along with the Swiss foreign minister, Micheline
Calmy-Rey - had an `extensive talk' with Erdogan.

Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the WEF summit,
Deiss said he and Calmy-Rey had relayed to Erdogan details of a
recent vote by the Swiss parliament, which recognized the 1915
genocide of Armenians.

And while the Swiss president said there were still outstanding
questions between Switzerland and Turkey, a certain easing of
tensions between the two countries appeared likely.

Erdogan renewed an invitation, cancelled last year, for Calmy-Rey to
visit Turkey. The Turkish government withdrew an earlier invitation
in protest against the Swiss parliament's vote.

Flurry of meetings

Swiss cabinet ministers in Davos this week have held more than 10
bilateral meetings with presidents, prime ministers or Kings, as well
as with several ministers.

Deiss described the meetings, which had taken advantage of the fact
that so many of the world's leaders had gathered in Davos for the WEF
summit, as `interesting, lively and fruitful'.

In particular, there were key talks with the Netherlands, Denmark and
Finland - countries which promised to support Switzerland's efforts
to conclude the current round of bilateral negotiations with the
European Union.

In return, Deiss said it had been made clear to him that Switzerland
could not conduct a piece-meal approach to Europe.

Cheney speech

Saturday also saw the highlight of this year's five-day WEF forum,
the much-anticipated arrival of Cheney in Switzerland on what is only
his second trip outside the US since the Bush administration took
office three years ago.

Cheney used a speech at the summit to issue a fresh call for unity in
the `war against terror'.

Delivering a message largely aimed at restoring transatlantic
relations frayed by disagreements over the Iraq war, Cheney said
promoting democracy in the Arab world was a top priority.

"We must confront the ideologies of violence at the source, by
promoting democracy throughout the greater Middle East and beyond,'
Cheney said.

This year's forum has been dominated by debates about the real impact
of the Bush administration's foreign policies.

And by dispatching to Davos the most senior US administration figure
other than the president, the White House hoped to send a signal
about America's determination to work with Europe.

He also emphasised America's use of non-military means of combating
terrorism.

`Violence against violent men'

However, Cheney did not shy away from defending American use of
violence in Iraq and elsewhere, saying that, if the US had not acted,
Saddam Hussein would still be "defying the United Nations and making
a mockery of its mission".

The world's democracies must send an "unmistakable message" that "the
pursuit of weapons of mass destruction only invites isolation and
carries great costs," he said.

`And at that po
int we must show that behind our resolution there is
actual resolve. As president Bush has said: our people have given us
the duty to defend them.

`And that duty sometimes requires the violent restraint of violent
men.'
 
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