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Switzerland signs agreement to represent U.S. in Venezuela

Christian Fernsby |
Switzerland said Friday that it had signed an agreement to represent the interests of the United States in Venezuela, under a "good offices" accord between the two countries.

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The Federal Council, Switzerland's cabinet, said in a statement that the agreement was signed in Bern on Friday by foreign minister Ignazio Cassis and the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland Edward McMullen.

The arrangement needs Venezuela's approval before coming into effect, said the Federal Council statement.

"This mandate offers Switzerland an opportunity to contribute to the de-escalation of tensions between the two countries and thus play a constructive role in safeguarding regional stability, a stability that is also in the interest of Venezuela's neighbors," said the statement.

This representation of interests concerns mainly consular services for U.S. citizens in Venezuela.

The statement said Venezuela would examine in detail Switzerland's mandate, and if it is formally accepted, the Swiss protecting power mandate will then come into effect.

"Swiss diplomacy has a long tradition of representing foreign interests, whereby it covers partial consular services and sometimes also diplomatic tasks for countries that have broken off relations if requested by the States in question," said the statement.

During the Second World War, Switzerland represented the interests of more than 35 states, which led to over 200 individual mandates.

Switzerland currently holds six such mandates, representing the United States in Iran; Russia in Georgia; Georgia in Russia; Iran in Saudi Arabia; Saudi Arabia in Iran, and Iran in Egypt.

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