Couchepin visits Morocco

Swiss President Pascal Couchepin has met Moroccan Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi during a trip to the country – the first ever by a Swiss president.

This content was published on January 7, 2008 - 20:25

Both sides hailed bilateral relations, but said they could be strengthened. Couchepin is on a two-day visit to the country aimed at boosting cooperation between Rabat and Bern.

Couchepin's spokesman Jean-Marc Crevoisier said that Switzerland considered Morocco an important partner and a link between Europe and Africa.

Talks – also with several other ministers – focused on how to live in a multicultural society with several religions, languages and dialects. The Swiss education system was also discussed.

Couchepin serves as interior minister in charge of health, science and culture.

As talks resume over Western Sahara - the subject of a decades-long dispute between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front - Couchepin made it clear that Switzerland trusted the United Nations to find a solution. The UN is sponsoring the negotiations which start near New York on Monday.

Morocco is the first stop on a longer trip to the region. Couchepin will move on to Egypt later on Tuesday.

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