World, Europe

Swiss president on landmark Africa tour to bolster ties

Alain Barset holds talks on boosting relations, updating free trade deal between European, Southern African blocs, says statement

John Cassim and Hassan Isilow  | 08.02.2023 - Update : 08.02.2023
Swiss president on landmark Africa tour to bolster ties

Harare, Zimbabwe

Swiss President Alain Berset paid an official visit to Mozambique on Wednesday as he continued a tour of sub-Saharan Africa to revitalize his country's ties, including economic, with nations in the region.

On the previous leg of his tour on Tuesday, Berset signed a memorandum of understanding on health-sector cooperation with Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi.

According to a statement by the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs, Berset also visited the AIDS research institute in the Southern African country where the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was discovered.

"The bilateral talks focused on expanding relations between Switzerland and Botswana," said the statement, adding that "economic exchanges" were also discussed, including on modernizing an existing free trade deal between the European Free Trade Association and Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

Reaffirming that he would make several more visits to Africa this year, Berset also emphasized Switzerland's intention to expand cooperation with the African Union and regional organizations such as the SACU.

In neighboring Mozambique, he was slated to hold political talks with President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi on bilateral issues and cooperation in the UN Security Council.

Berset's visit to Africa comes soon after Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko signed deals on defense and agriculture with his Zimbabwean counterpart President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

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