Security issues were the focal point of the meeting between Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. They discussed the situation in Syria and talked about the UN's role in seeking a resolution to the conflict. Mr Burkhalter underscored Switzerland's continuing support for the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, whose initiative for a comprehensive inner-Syrian dialogue includes Swiss international legal expert, Nicolas Michel, as facilitator for political and legal issues. He also emphasised the urgency of providing the necessary emergency relief to the suffering populations in the conflict areas. Switzerland's financial assistance in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq totals over CHF 200 million to date.
Mr Burkhalter and Mr Ban also talked about measures to combat violent extremism.
The Federal Councillor welcomed the UN action plan that includes prevention measures and ensuring respect for human rights – two of Switzerland's priorities in relation to combating terrorism. Switzerland and the UN will hold an initial conference on implementing the action plan in April 2016.
The migration crisis was also under discussion in Zurich today. Mr Burkhalter stressed that the crisis could only be resolved if all the actors involved followed a clear and coordinated approach.
Today's meeting in Zurich took place in the run-up to the annual conference of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO), at which Mr Burkhalter and the UN Secretary-General gave the opening speeches. This year's conference is dedicated to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. During their working lunch, both Mr Burkhalter and Mr Ban agreed on the significance of the agenda with its Sustainable Development Goals on issues such as overcoming extreme poverty and hunger, as well as education, health, gender equality, water, sustainable consumption and production, employment, biodiversity, ecosystems, and peaceful and inclusive societies. Mr Burkhalter stated that implementing the agenda, which was adopted at the end of September 2015, now required immediate attention and underlined Switzerland's readiness to assume its responsibilities in this matter. He went on to say that Geneva – as host to numerous country representations, international organisations, NGOs, companies and academic institutions – should be an important hub for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
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