Innovation, education, the economy and good offices at the centre of USA-Switzerland talks in Geneva

Press release, 15.06.2021

Bern, 15.06.2021 - Delegations from Switzerland and the USA met in Geneva in the run-up to the upcoming summit between US President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, 16 June 2021. The talks focused on further strengthening economic relations and cooperation in education and research. Switzerland's good offices were also a topic of discussion.

Twitter Ignazio Cassis
Twitter Ignazio Cassis Twitter Ignazio Cassis

Both delegations acknowledged the active and long-standing relations between the two countries. Switzerland and the USA share values in many areas and are committed to democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Switzerland welcomes the USA’s renewed commitment to multilateralism.

President Guy Parmelin highlighted the existing close contact between scientists in Switzerland and the USA. These two countries are among the most innovative in the world; the exchanges taking place between them contribute to solutions being found for the great challenges we face today. A current example is cooperation in vaccine production between companies in Switzerland and the USA.

A key topic of discussion was education and vocational education and training in particular, where the renewal of a memorandum of understanding is in the works to intensify exchanges. With regard to trade relations, the delegations discussed the status of the exploratory talks for a potential bilateral trade agreement.

With regard to good offices, discussions focused in particular on the protecting power mandate for the USA in Iran, which Switzerland has been exercising for over 40 years. The delegations discussed the steps needed to ensure that the payment mechanism for humanitarian supplies to Iran (i.e. the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement), which has been in force since February 2020, can take full effect. The aim is to ensure that humanitarian goods such as medicine, medical devices, food and agricultural commodities can be exported to Iran despite the US sanctions against Iran.

On the Swiss side, President Parmelin and Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), as well as State Secretaries Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch (SECO) and Livia Leu (FDFA) took part in the talks. The US delegation, led by President Biden, included Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Need for constructive dialogue

Speaking to the media, President Parmelin thanked all those involved in ensuring that Wednesday’s summit can take place under the best possible conditions. Switzerland believes that to tackle today’s global challenges there needs to be constructive dialogue between the major powers. The Swiss president went on to say, “The world has suffered a terrible 18 months because of the pandemic. This meeting in Geneva is an opportunity for the presidents of the USA and Russia to project more optimism and hope in world politics again.”

Mr Cassis underlined how the summit shows “the importance of Geneva as an international city where governments, representatives of civil society and academia can come together to find sustainable solutions to major global challenges”.