Swiss FM Vows to Boost Relations With Iran

Swiss FM Vows to Boost Relations With IranSwiss FM Vows to Boost Relations With Iran

Switzerland’s visiting foreign minister said he would make all-out efforts to improve bilateral relations and international dialogue with Iran. 
“We hope the centenary of Iran-Switzerland relations will help further strengthen the ties and we can play our role properly as representative of [other countries’] interests,” Ignazio Cassis said in his meeting with Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf in Tehran on Sunday, ISNA reported.  
The top Swiss diplomat is in Iran on a three-day trip to mark 100 years of the European country’s diplomatic presence in Tehran while also holding discussions with senior Iranian officials over a range of subjects, particularly the financial channel that aims to help Iran avoid American sanctions. 
“This channel will help the free flow of Iran’s revenues, especially to cover the costs of food and medicine, which is of course insufficient and needs to be expanded,” Cassis said. 
The mechanism, known as the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement, allows Swiss-based companies to send medicines and other essential goods to Iran without being obstructed by the tough sanctions that the United States reimposed on Iran two years ago, after quitting the 2015 nuclear deal.
The first shipment of medical supplies arrived in Tehran through the channel in July after a trial transaction earlier in January.
Cassis regretted Iran’s economic problems arising from the stringent US sanctions, recalling that several major Swiss companies have maintained their operations in Iran despite the American restrictions. 
Nestlé, the world’s biggest food company as well as drugmakers Roche and Novartis are among Swiss companies still operating in Iran. 
Qalibaf congratulated the 100th anniversary of Tehran-Bern relations and commended Switzerland’s efforts toward global peace and other humanitarian causes.   
He pointed to the roadmap for cooperation previously signed between the two countries, saying its terms could help improve bilateral ties, if properly implemented.
“We have a duty to expand our relations, especially since an account has been recently opened between Iran and Switzerland for the trade of food and medicine, although one should be content with that,” he said. 
The Majlis speaker said Iran’s foreign policy approach involves cooperation with all countries unless they tend to dominate like the US. 
Qalibaf said Europe can have unimpeded relations with Iran, as long as it acts independently. 
“Europe should not be influenced by American policies, especially because their measures cause insecurity and instability in the region,” he said. 
Cassis is set to meet President Hassan Rouhani and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Monday. 
Switzerland has represented the United States’ interests in Iran since 1980, and assumed protecting power mandates for Iran in Saudi Arabia and for Saudi Arabia in Iran in 2017. Since 2019, it has also represented Iranian interests in Canada.

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