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Swiss minister to visit India to boost co-op on migration

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New Delhi: Switzerland’s Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga will visit India next week to boost cooperation between the two countries on migration issues.

Before coming to India, she will visit Sri Lanka.

“A prime objective of the working visits is to intensify cooperation with the two countries on migration issues,” the Swiss government said in a statement today.

In Sri Lanka, Sommaruga will also be seeking to obtain a clearer picture of the status of the national reconciliation process and of the human rights situation.

Terming India as a major partner country, the Swiss government said Intensification of cooperation on migration issues will be the subject of the second leg of the Federal Councillor’s trip, a one-day visit to India.

“In terms of numbers, India is the most important third country for Switzerland, both with regard to the granting of permits to work in Switzerland and as concerns the issuance of visas. Among other things, Federal Councillor Sommaruga will be visiting the new Swiss visa application centre in New Delhi,” the statement said.

The centre issues approximately 110,000 visas for Switzerland annually. This represents roughly one fifth of all visas issued for Switzerland each year and reflects the large number of tourists that visit Switzerland from India,” it added.

On Sri Lanka, it said the government there has inaugurated a process for comprehensive democratic reforms.

“After decades of armed conflict, a new constitution has been adopted to help enable the country to come to terms with its recent past, to achieve reconciliation between all ethnic groups, and to strengthen the rule of law.

“Switzerland has been actively involved in Sri Lanka for many years now, providing humanitarian assistance and carrying out projects on human rights policy and in the fields of migration and development,” it added.

Switzerland said it would like to further intensify its efforts in Sri Lanka in order to assist with the ongoing reform process.

In the wake of the armed conflict in that country, many displaced persons sought a safe haven in Switzerland and some 50,000 people from Sri Lanka live there, out of which about one half have in the intervening years been granted Swiss citizenship.

Because the security situation in Sri Lanka has improved and the infrastructure in the north of the country has been largely restored, the execution of repatriation orders to all parts of the country is considered today, in principle, to be a reasonable measure, Swiss government said.

—PTI

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