Trump meets with Swiss president whose country represents US interests in Iran

US President Donald Trump welcomes President Ueli Maurer of the Swiss Confederation, upon his arrival for a meeting in the Oval Office on May 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP)

US President Donald Trump met with Switzerland President Ueli Maurer, whose nation has served as a diplomatic conduit between the two countries.

Switzerland, a neutral country, has historically been a liaison between the United States and Iran, which have no diplomatic relations.

As Trump greeted Maurer at the White House, he responded to reporters who asked if Washington was going to war with Tehran: “Hope not.”

Later, a White House statement said the two leaders discussed “a range of international issues, including the crises in the Middle East and in Venezuela.”

“President Trump expressed his gratitude for Switzerland’s role in facilitating international mediation and diplomatic relations on behalf of the United States,” the statement said.

Maurer, who is also the Swiss finance minister, was in Washington upon an invitation from Trump, the Swiss government said.

According to local media reports, it is the first time a Swiss president has been received by a US president in the White House.

Switzerland agreed last month to represent Washington’s interests in Venezuela. The South American country has not yet responded to the US request.

So-called protecting power mandates, of which Switzerland currently holds six, allow Swiss good offices to step in as go-betweens, providing consular services or making diplomatic efforts, when countries have broken off ties, according to Reuters.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 14:04 - GMT 11:04
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