Visit by the President of the Swiss Confederation to Kuwait underlines intensification of relations

Press release, 28.11.2016

Bern, - On Monday, 28 November, President Johann N. Schneider-Ammann was received for a state visit by Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s head of state. The visit by the Swiss president forms part of an intensified series of diplomatic visits to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Kuwait which began in 1966. The official talks focused on bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries at international level. At the weekend, the president attended the Francophonie Summit in Madagascar where he also met with a number of heads of state on the fringes of the conference, including French President François Hollande.        

In addition to meeting the Emir of Kuwait in Kuwait City, President Schneider-Ammann also met with Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Social Affairs and Labour Minister Hind Al-Sabeeh. During the president’s visit the existing declaration of intent on strengthened cooperation was reviewed and extended to include security policy issues and subsequently signed.

Kuwait is an important partner for Switzerland as part of its commitment to regional stability. The main topics on the agenda at Monday’s meetings were international issues such as fighting terrorism and the situation in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

In August the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) agreed to expand cooperation in the field of development cooperation. During the talks the delegations welcomed the fact that joint projects were already in the planning stage.

The delegations also discussed questions concerning the rule of law and economic policy. Mr Schneider-Ammann welcomed Kuwait’s commitment to protect foreign workers and respect international standards. Furthermore, he stressed that Kuwait was an important trade partner for Switzerland in the region. In 2015 the volume of trade exceeded CHF 500 million (+18% compared to the previous year).

In 2014 a free trade agreement entered into effect between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the Gulf Cooperation Council states of Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Switzerland is a popular destination for Kuwaiti tourists with 94,000 overnight stays recorded in 2015.

Bilateral talks in Antananarivo

Prior to visiting Kuwait, the president attended the Francophonie Summit in the Madagascan capital, Antananarivo. The Summit, which takes place every two years, is the highest-level gathering of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF). The motto of this year’s event was ‘Shared growth and responsible development: conditions for stability in the world and in the French-speaking area’.

President Schneider-Ammann took the opportunity to hold a number of bilateral talks. He met Hery Rajonarimampianina, the President of Madagascar, host country of the XVI Francophonie Summit, as well as presidents Macky Sall (Senegal), Faustin-Archange Touadéra (Central African Republic) and Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger).

At his meeting with President François Hollande, President Schneider-Amman explained the state of parliamentary work on implementing Article 121a of the Federal Constitution and its consequences for discussions on the free movement of persons between Switzerland and the EU. The two presidents welcomed the initialling of the agreement regulating the status of EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse. At a meeting in Colmar on 23 January, they clarified the conditions for the successful resolution of taxation issues in a joint declaration.



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