Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis to travel to Asia-Pacific region
Bern, 01.02.2024 - Federal Councillor and head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Ignazio Cassis will be travelling to China, India, the Republic of Korea, and the Philippines from 5 to 8 February 2024. Mr Cassis will meet with the foreign ministers in all four countries for official talks. The focus will be on strengthening Switzerland's network of ties in the Asia-Pacific region. Peace in Ukraine will also be on the agenda.
The Asian economies have regained significant momentum over the past two years. With its growing geopolitical importance, the Asia-Pacific region is a priority in the new Foreign Policy Strategy 2024–27. It is in Switzerland's interests to systematically foster and continuously expand relations with the dynamic countries in the region.
India: important member of the BRICS+ group
Mr Cassis will begin his tour of Asia with a working visit to New Delhi. His last visit to India was to mark the 70th anniversary of Swiss-Indian friendship in 2018. On 5 February 2024, he will meet Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to discuss progress in economic relations between India and Switzerland, and cooperation on education, research and innovation. The talks with this founding member of the BRICS+ group will also broach important international issues of the moment, in particular possible paths to peace in Ukraine.
Republic of Korea: partner on the UN Security Council
In Seoul on 6 February, Mr Cassis will meet the new Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Cho Tae-yul, for the first time. The Republic of Korea is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council since the start of 2024, meaning that it is serving on the Council alongside Switzerland this year. The meeting between Mr Cassis and Mr Cho will therefore focus on current global security issues. Another topic will be the role of digital technologies, including in relation to global governance.
China: continuation of strategic dialogue
Mr Cassis will then travel to the People's Republic of China, where he will be received by Wang Yi, Director of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee Foreign Affairs Commission Office and China's Minister of Foreign Affairs. This will be the second high-level contact between the two countries since the start of the year, following Premier Li Qiang's visit to Bern on 15 January. The aim is to resume the strategic dialogue between the two countries' foreign ministers, which has been on hold since 2019 due to the pandemic. Mr Cassis will also make a courtesy visit to Chinese Vice President Han Zheng.
The agenda will cover a wide range of bilateral issues. In total, Switzerland and China are engaged in over 20 active dialogues on various topics, including human rights. Mr Cassis and Mr Wang will also address the international security situation, including the war in Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East and on the Korean peninsula. Cooperation in multilateral forums such as the UN will also form part of the discussions.
Philippines: strengthening ties in fast-growing South East Asia
The last leg of the trip will see Mr Cassis visit the Philippine capital Manila on 8 February. With a population of around 117 million, the Philippines is the second largest country in South East Asia. As part of the South East Asia Strategy 2023–26, the Federal Council wishes to further consolidate and strengthen relations with this dynamic region. This is the first visit to Manila by a federal councillor since 2008 and provides an opportunity to pursue both objectives. The agenda for the meeting with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo will include economic ties, Switzerland's contribution to peacebuilding in the Philippines, cooperation on human rights, and the geopolitical situation in the Asia-Pacific region.
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