Swiss president arrives today on 4-day visit
12:00 AM, February 04, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 04, 2018

Swiss president arrives today on 4-day visit

President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset arrives in Dhaka this noon on a four-day official visit to boost the 46-year-old ties between the two countries.

This is the first time a Swiss president is visiting here since March 13, 1972, the day when Switzerland recognised the independence of Bangladesh.

The president will be accorded a ceremonial welcome, followed by separate official talks with President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, are expected to accelerate Bangladesh-Swiss relations.

Berset's visit to Bangladesh assumes much significance as Dhaka is seeking global support in mounting pressure on Myanmar to take back over one million Rohingya refugees, who took shelter in Cox's Bazar amid ethnic cleansing in Rakhine State.

It is also important in the context that the Swiss president is coming to express solidarity with Bangladesh over the Rohingya crisis, which will be the major focus of the talks with high government leaders.

Diplomatic sources in Dhaka said the first official visit by a Swiss president to Bangladesh will strengthen economic relations on a wide range of areas between the two countries as well as cooperation at international level.

According to a Swiss media release, there will be two main aims -- to demonstrate solidarity with a country that is severely affected by the crisis in neighbouring Myanmar, and to establish closer bilateral relations.

During his talks with high Bangladesh government leaders tomorrow, Berset will commend the political and economic relations between the two countries and gauge the considerable potential for further development. The two countries will discuss ways to further strengthen economic, development and cultural cooperation during the visit.

On Tuesday, the Swiss president will visit the Kutupalong camp in Cox's Bazar, where Switzerland provides humanitarian aid to the Rohingyas.

His programme schedules in Bangladesh also include a meeting with civil society representatives and another with representatives of Swiss businesses active in Bangladesh.

The president will also visit the Dhaka Art Summit on Wednesday of which the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia is a partner.

He will depart Bangladesh for South Korea on Wednesday noon for high-level talks and to attend the opening of the Olympic Winter Games.

Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Bangladesh have grown and multiplied since 1972. At present, Bangladesh is one of the priority countries of Switzerland in terms of development cooperation.

Switzerland and Bangladesh enjoy good relations, with contacts focusing on development cooperation: Bangladesh is a priority country in Swiss development cooperation. There is also growing interest in bilateral economic relations. The volume of trade between the two countries has more than doubled since 2010.

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