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Belt and Road Initiative to contribute to poverty reduction: Swiss President

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-05-07 10:26

Swiss President Doris Leuthard speaks during an interview with Xinhua in Bern, Switzerland, on Jan 12, 2017. She is expected to attend the Belt and Road forum for international cooperation in Beijing on May 14-15. [Photo/Xinhua]

GENEVA - "The Belt and Road Initiative will strengthen well-being and contribute to poverty reduction in concerned regions. It will improve 'connectivity' between Europe and Asia, and help develop trade and the exchange of people," Swiss President Doris Leuthard told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Leuthard is among the heads of state and government leaders who accepted China's invitation to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation slated for May 14 and 15 in Beijing.

The trip to China reflects Switzerland's support for the Belt and Road Initiative. It also highlights the very positive relations prevailing between Switzerland and China, she said.

Leuthard noted that Switzerland was among the first non-Asian countries to become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), whose mandate involves, amongst other things, financing infrastructure projects along the Belt and Road.

The improvement of transportation and communication links between Europe and Asia is also important for Switzerland, she said.

According to Leuthard, the Belt and Road Initiative has the potential to strengthen Sino-Swiss relations. By using the know-how and innovation of Swiss businesses, Switzerland's private sector can play an important role in the implementation of infrastructure projects.

As an example, Switzerland boasts globally recognized expertise in the green energy sector, as well as in the construction of tunnels.

"Only a few months ago, we opened the world's longest and most modern railway tunnel in the Swiss mountains," Leuthard said.

Leuthard stressed however that the initiative must integrate meticulous risk management for it to succeed.

This entails respecting internationally recognized norms and standards, something Switzerland already encourages within the AIIB in terms of social and environmental benchmarks.

It's also important to guarantee transparency with regards to project-financing mechanisms and legal measures guiding bidding procedures and attributions.

Finally, concerted planning on an international scale is crucial to carry out the projects in question.

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