Swiss Vice President and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis stressed the importance of Tehran’s return to the negotiations on the nuclear program, hoping that its ongoing talks with Riyadh would have a positive impact on the region’s security and stability.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Cassis said that every agreement that supports de-escalation of the conflict and alleviates the suffering of the Yemeni people is a step in the right direction, noting that from this point of view stems the importance of the Riyadh Agreement.
In his statements, he stressed the importance of finding a comprehensive and peaceful solution for the future of Yemen, reiterating Switzerland's call on all parties to abide by international law and stop attacks on civilians. He also said his country calls on all parties to re-engage in negotiations to end the violence and find a political solution.
Underlining his country’s support to the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, Cassis said it is important that the international community, and in particular regional actors, work towards reaching a political solution to the crisis.
On the ongoing rounds of negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the official asserted that only a comprehensive understanding between the countries of the region would lead to peace, stability, and prosperity in the long run.
He noted that the ongoing talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran are a good sign.
Asked about talks on Iran’s nuclear program, Cassis said the JCPOA progress is an essential contribution to international security and non-proliferation.
He added that as a non-signatory, Switzerland does not participate directly in the Vienna process. However, the country welcomes the news about the imminent resumption of talks and hopes that this will lead to a speedy and full return to the commitments of all parties.
Regarding Libya, Cassis said the country has suffered from various conflicts for more than 10 years, stressing that the ceasefire agreement signed in Geneva in October 2020 was the first sign of hope.
He highlighted several achievements that took place, including what he described as the free and inclusive elections, which are expected to be held by the end of 2021.
According to Cassis, Switzerland has been supporting the UN-led peace process for many years and will continue to provide services and stand by Libya on its path to sustainable peace and unity.
On relations with Saudi Arabia, he revealed that his visit to Riyadh would touch on means to strengthen his country’s ties with the Kingdom and deepen development cooperation.
Noting that Switzerland has adopted a strategy for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in October, he said that his visit would be largely devoted to the implementation of this strategy, which builds on Switzerland’s longstanding commitment to conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance, and the promotion of development cooperation.
Cassis said his country also seeks to highlight the opportunities available to Swiss companies in the Saudi market, as well as Switzerland's relentless pursuit to harness the potential of the young, well-educated workforce and work to promote digitalization and new technologies.
Asked about previous bilateral agreements and whether his visit to Riyadh would witness the signing of new cooperation projects, Cassis said he believes that through the free trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, in addition to the double taxation agreement and the bilateral investment agreement, it is possible to say that relations with Saudi Arabia rest on a solid foundation.
On efforts to combat climate change, the minister stressed that Switzerland welcomed the efforts made by all countries to mitigate and adapt to climate threats.
He noted that climate change is an excellent example of a global challenge that can only be faced together.
Cassis also said that Switzerland and Saudi Arabia share many interests in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adding that priority topics included ways to improve water and health, address climate change, and enhance agriculture and food security.