The Swiss delegation was headed by Martin Dahinden, Director-General of the SDC, who seized the occasion to point out the excellent relations between the two countries and to reaffirm continuation of the Swiss programme to promote peace and foster arms reduction. In addition, bilateral talks were conducted with the President of Nepal, Ram Baran Yadav, the Premier Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Finance Minister, and the Peace and Reconstruction Minister.
The Nepali government thanked Switzerland for its support and for the upgrading of bilateral relations through the opening of an Embassy. The themes touched upon included the still fragile peace process, the various paths available to speed up reconciliation, the human rights situation, the integration of the former rebels into the regular army, and the consolidation of on-going development projects. These issues were also discussed at the meetings held with the leaders of the major political parties – among them, those of the Maoist opposition – as well as representatives of Nepali civil society.
The Swiss delegation, whose members also included Ms. Helene Budliger, Head of the FDFA Directorate of Corporate Management, and Ambassador Thomas Greminger, Head of Political Affairs Division IV (Human Security), travelled to the Ramechap District for an on-site verification of the Swiss development programme. They saw for themselves how the assistance provided by Switzerland goes directly to the benefit of the poor and disadvantaged populations in rural areas. For Switzerland, Nepal continues to be vested with the status of priority country for bilateral cooperation. In 2008, Nepal received support amounting to CHF 25 million; this year, an amount of CHF 21.5 million has been earmarked, ranking Switzerland as one of Nepal’s principal development partners.
Not least, Switzerland’s good reputation traces back to the support provided by the Swiss Agency for Development and cooperation (SDC) for the construction and maintenance of over 3000 pedestrian suspension bridges and several hundred kilometres of roads that provide the means to dis-enclave peripheral mountain regions. Furthermore, Switzerland supports the peace process and, on an informal level, acts as mediator to foster progress in this arduous process. Switzerland advocated for the opening of an office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (2005), and continues to make three unarmed officers available as military observers within the scope of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN).
The newly opened Embassy will be headed by Ambassador Thomas Gass.
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