KUALA LUMPUR: Switzerland, famous for its concept of neutrality, views the 13th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit here with extra interest.
Swiss Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Peter A. Schweizer said his country welcomed NAM as an alternative effort to promote peace and understanding between all nations.
“Switzerland will be represented by a guest delegation at the NAM Summit here and will watch with keen interest NAM’s progress in further strengthening ties between countries of the southern hemisphere.
“Switzerland wishes this high-level meet the very best of success,” he told The Star.
Switzerland adhered to wartime neutrality for centuries and developed the principle of “permanent neutrality” to avoid developments that could diminish its neutral stand in armed conflicts.
However, with regard to the Iraqi crisis, Dr Schweizer said his Government’s stand was to abide by the United Nations Security Council in authorising military action on Iraq and oppose a unilateral strike by the United States.
Malaysia invited Switzerland along with several other nations to the summit as guests.
Guest nations can only attend the opening and closing ceremonies and do not have the right to participate in deliberations.
Dr Schweizer, who will be joined by a high-ranking Swiss official from the country’s permanent mission in New York, said Switzerland welcomed the Malaysian initiative to create a parallel NAM Business Forum on South-South Co-operation.
French President Jacques Chirac, who is staunchly opposed to an attack on Iraq, is sending his close aide Laurent Bili to attend the opening ceremony.
French Ambassador to Malaysia Jacques Lapouge said his country attached great importance to the grouping.
“The current international situation, especially in Iraq, has sharpened French interest,” he added.
Australia, which was also accorded guest status, said the meet would be an important caucus to discuss and review current political and economic issues of the developing world.
High Commissioner James Wise said the event would provide an opportunity for participating countries to “see how successful Malaysia has been in meeting the challenges of development.”
British High Commissioner Bruce Cleghorn said: “The eyes of the world will be on NAM over the next few days.”
“Under Malaysia’s leadership, the movement has great potential to contribute to the peaceful resolution of current problems by underlining the importance of support for the United Nations and compliance with its decisions,” he added.
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