Lebanon to receive President Alain Berset for a state visit next week

Bern, 20.08.2018 - Switzerland and Lebanon have traditionally shared close ties; bilateral relations have intensified significantly in recent years. In order to acknowledge and reinforce this development, President Alain Berset will travel to Lebanon between Sunday, 26 August, and Tuesday, 28 August, where he will be received on a state visit. Official talks are set to take place with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday, 27 August.

In addition to the political and economic ties between Switzerland and Lebanon, talks are also expected to cover the Syrian crisis and migration issues. Lebanon has taken in some 1.5 million refugees and has the highest density of refugees worldwide. As part of a regional cooperation strategy, Switzerland is working to protect and help cover the basic needs of refugees and those in need in Lebanon. It is also assisting the Lebanese water authorities near the Syrian border where there is a particularly large refugee population.

While in Lebanon Mr Berset will also meet the speaker of Lebanon's parliament, Nabih Berri. Meetings are also planned with representatives from the UN, civil society organisations and Swiss firms active in Lebanon as well as with artists. In addition, at the invitation of the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, Mr Berset will also meet with a number of religious dignitaries.

Political dialogue since 2016

Switzerland and Lebanon have traditionally enjoyed very good relations; the two countries are often compared with one another due to the characteristics they have in common such as democracy, cultural diversity in a compact territory, and openness to world trade. The launch of a regular political dialogue in November 2016 underlines just how intensive political relations between the two countries have become. Switzerland and Lebanon also hold a dialogue on migration since spring 2018.

In economic terms, potential exists for more diversified trade relations. Lebanon is currently Switzerland's sixth largest trade partner in the Middle East. The two countries also foster intensive cultural exchanges, not least due to the French language, which they both have in common.

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