Focus on bilateral and regional topics: Ignazio Cassis receives Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil in Bern

Press release, 14.06.2018

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis has met Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil of Lebanon in Bern for bilateral talks. In addition to topics of bilateral interest, their meeting focused on Lebanon's position in the region and the situation of Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

FDFA Head Ignazio Cassis meets Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil of Lebanon for bilateral talks.
FDFA Head Ignazio Cassis meets Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil of Lebanon for bilateral talks. © FDFA

In the context of regular political contacts between Switzerland and Lebanon, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil met today in Bern to discuss topics of bilateral and regional interest. The head of the FDFA highlighted the traditionally close bilateral relations between the two countries, both of whose societies are shaped by different cultures and religions living side by side. The ministers agreed to launch expert-level talks on this subject.

Trade between Switzerland and Lebanon amounted to approximately CHF 800 million in 2017. The two foreign ministers discussed the potential to expand trade relations, e.g. through the private sector creating a Swiss-Lebanese chamber of commerce in Switzerland.

Mr Cassis and Mr Bassil also discussed international issues including the situation in the Middle East and the question of migration as well as the role of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Over 1.5 million Syrian refugees and some 200,000 Palestinian refugees currently live in Lebanon, which has a population of just over 4 million. The large number of refugees poses major problems for Lebanese society. Switzerland is supporting Lebanon in a number of areas such as water management in the Bekaa Valley and the renovation of 52 schools, which benefits 15,000 pupils. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has allocated approx. CHF 60 million in funding for Lebanon for the 2015–18 period. Furthermore, Switzerland and Lebanon have been conducting a migration dialogue since May 2018.

Further information:

Bilateral relations Switzerland–Lebanon

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Fax: +41 58 464 90 47


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs