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Switzerland commits to promoting dialogue in the Middle East

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Switzerland will continue to play a constructive role in Iraq and in the region to promote dialogue. This is the message conveyed by Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis during his talks in Baghdad.

The Swiss minister has completed the first leg of his trip to the region which will also take him to Oman and Lebanon. During his visit to Iraq, he met his counterpart Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein, Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi as well as Speaker of Parliament Mohamed al-Halbousi.

A “constructive” role

The priorities of the government’s 2021-2024 strategy for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region were at the center of the discussions. Namely the promotion of peace and security in the Middle East. Ignazio Cassis reiterated Switzerland’s desire to commit to reducing regional tensions.

“Iraq has often been the first victim of the confrontation between the United States and Iran. Switzerland will continue to play a constructive role in Iraq and in the region to promote dialogue, ”he said. His interlocutors praised Switzerland’s commitment, particularly in terms of water diplomacy, according to the FDFA.

The head of the FDFA underlined Switzerland’s humanitarian commitment in Iraq. The country has four million people in need of assistance. Since 2014, Switzerland’s contribution has amounted to more than CHF 80 million.

Reopening of the embassy

Official talks also focused on migration issues and the desire to strengthen bilateral cooperation in this area. This visit was also an opportunity to sign a Memorandum of Understanding which opens the door to strengthening bilateral relations.

In addition, Ignazio Cassis discussed the possibility of reopening a Swiss embassy in Iraq. Switzerland closed its liaison office in Baghdad in 2008 for security reasons. Since then, the Swiss Ambassador in Amman, Jordan, has been accredited to defend the interests of Switzerland in Iraq.

Meeting with young entrepreneurs

The head of the FDFA also met Cardinal Louis Raphaël Ier Sako, Patriarch of Babylon and of the Chaldean Catholic Church. Discussions focused on interfaith dialogue and the situation of minorities in the region.

Finally in Baghdad, the Federal Councilor met young entrepreneurs. Discussions focused on innovation, vocational training and the obstacles they face.

“This exchange with young Iraqis, full of ideas and potential, makes me optimistic that this country will be able to recover from the many crises it has gone through,” he said according to the statement. The meeting took place in a stadium designed by Swiss architect Le Corbusier in the 1950s.

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