Foreign minister defends Iran trip

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey believes her controversial visit to Iran in March was a model of diplomacy and business working hand in hand.

This content was published on May 14, 2008 minutes

She told a conference in Lucerne on Wednesday that the agreement ensured a long-term Swiss presence in an important region.

The gas deal which was signed in Calmy-Rey's presence between the National Iranian Gas Export Company and the Swiss EGL power company, brought furious responses from several quarters - most notably Israel, Jewish organisations and the United States.

The US said it sent "the wrong message" to Iran, while Israel called her visit an "unfriendly" act.

Calmy-Rey said in her speech that the short-term annoyance of Switzerland's partners had to be taken into account, but that the foreign ministry network had an important role to play in supporting Swiss economic interests abroad.

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