Switzerland to strengthen its presence in Benghazi

Bern, 11.07.2011 - Switzerland strengthens its presence in Benghazi, and sends a diplomat to the East Libyan city for the purpose of opening a liaison office. This will be in addition to the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit programme office which has already been up and running for the last four months.

In mid-March 2011, Switzerland became one of the first countries to open a Humanitarian Aid programme office in Benghazi, and to make a contribution to alleviating the suffering being experienced by the people of Libya. Switzerland will continue with this humanitarian commitment.

By sending a special envoy to Benghazi, Switzerland is signaling its intent to strengthen its presence there, and to intensify its political relations with the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC). The Special Envoy is entrusted with the task of safeguarding Switzerland's interests in Benghazi, promoting and intensifying contact with the NTC, and with opening a liaison office. This will be situated in the premises of the Humanitarian Aid programme office.

Until such time as a legally elected government is in place, the NTC is the sole partner for contact between Switzerland and Libya. So far the Federal President Micheline Calmy-Rey, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, has met with representatives of the NTC for discussions in Bern and Tunis. For security reasons the Swiss Embassy in Tripoli has been closed since 27 February 2011.

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