On 18 September, Switzerland was able to hand over five US citizens, released by Iran, to the US authorities in Doha, Qatar. In return, the US has released five Iranian nationals. Deploying its extensive experience and expertise, Switzerland made a key contribution to the success of this humanitarian gesture and facilitated the related transfer of frozen funds from South Korea to Iran. The funds may only be used for humanitarian purposes. Switzerland played a major role in the process by providing its good offices at the request of all the parties involved.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, Foreign minister and head of the FDFA, welcomed the prisoner swap and thanked both countries for the trust they placed in Switzerland: "Dialogue is always the best option. Switzerland is ready to participate in other mediation processes in line with its long-standing tradition of providing good offices".
Switzerland's good offices: a key foreign policy instrument
The aim of good offices is to resolve differences and conflicts between and within countries by political means. Just trying to the keep channels of communication open is often crucial to preventing disputes from escalating and mitigating their effects.
Switzerland's good offices, which have a long tradition as part of Swiss foreign policy, include safeguarding foreign interests. This year, it was also possible to terminate the protecting power mandates for Saudi Arabia in Iran and for Iran in Saudi Arabia. Switzerland also supported this step, which will increase stability in the region.
In addition to the protecting power mandate for the US in Iran, Switzerland is currently exercising four other protecting power mandates: for Russia in Georgia, Georgia in Russia, Iran in Egypt and Iran in Canada.
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