Riyadh-Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Didier Burkhalter, said that his country is ready to play its traditional role as a neutral country and to contribute actively in reducing political tension in the Middle East through close cooperation with Saudi Arabia; its strategic partner.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Burkhalter said: “cooperation between Switzerland and Saudi Arabia will allow us to face various challenges that are affecting everyone.” He stressed on the importance of guaranteeing the safety of all diplomatic missions under the virtue of the international law, pointing out on the recent Iranian attack on the Saudi Embassy.
Didier Burkhalter added: “the specialty of the Saudi-Swiss relations comes in a very critical period as the current environment is full of challenges, and for this reason these relations will exceed economic and trade sectors to include humanitarian cooperation, water, energy, security policies, and human rights.”
He explained that his country is doing all what it can to combat terrorism through strict legal procedures; thus, it imposed measures to prevent the spread of violent extremism to ensure that his country’s territory would not be misused by criminals crossing its borders, and it cut the flow of resources used in committing terrorist acts, such as financial and economic resources, weapons and militants.
On the other hand, the Swiss Foreign Minister said that Switzerland will represent the interests of Saudi Arabia in Iran, and those of Iran in Saudi Arabia, following the rupture of diplomatic relations between both countries.
The agreement was the primary outcome concluded by the Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter’s after his 24-hrs-long visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, noting that it is the first visit of a Swiss foreign minister in 60 years of bilateral relations between the two countries.
In Riyadh, Burkhalter met with the king of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.
In his interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Burkhalter said that he officially informed the Saudi authorities of a request made by Iran demanding Switzerland to represent the interests of Tehran in Saudi Arabia; given the good relations that Switzerland has with both countries and given Switzerland’s interest in strengthening political stability in the region, Burkhalter also offered to represent Riyadh’s interest in Iran via “protecting power mandate”.
“Switzerland’s role still needs to be discussed in detail with representatives of both countries,” he added.