Switzerland pays first official visit to Iraq in over 40 years
Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis is visiting three Middle Eastern countries this week as part of a national strategy to promote stability in the region.
This was the first time since 1979 that a Swiss cabinet minister had visited Iraq. Cassis met his counterpart from the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein, Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi and the Speaker of the Council of Representatives of Iraq Mohamed al-Halbousi.
They discussed Switzerland’s Middle East and North Africa Strategy 2021-24, which focuses on promoting dialogue, reducing regional tensions, sustainable development and humanitarian activities. Since 2014, Switzerland has contributed more than CHF80 million ($85 million) in humanitarian aid to Iraq.
“In the past, Iraq has often been the first casualty of any confrontation between the United States and Iran. Switzerland will continue to play a constructive role in Iraq and the region in promoting dialogue,” explained Cassis.
Water diplomacy was another topic; the Swiss “Blue Peace initiative” aims to encourage regional cooperation to manage water resources.
There were also discussions about the possibility of reopening a Swiss embassy in Iraq. In 2008, Switzerland closed its diplomatic liaison office in Baghdad for security reasons.
As part of this week’s tour Cassis will also speak with leaders in Oman and Lebanon.