The Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, took advantage of his participation in the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, to meet the Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida for bilateral talks. Their meeting focused on security issues. Mr Burkhalter thanked Mr Kishida for Japan's support for the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to Ukraine. The foreign ministers also talked about cooperation between the OSCE and its Asian partner countries. Strengthening and further developing this cooperation is a priority of Switzerland's commitment to cooperative security in Asia. In this context, Mr Burkhalter invited Mr Kishida to participate in the OSCE-Asia conference. Asian ideas and proposals for multilateral security cooperation to respond to changes in global security structures will be at the centre of this conference, which will be organised by Switzerland, in its capacity as chair of the Contact Group with the OSCE Asian Partners for Co-Operation, together with South Korea in Seoul at the beginning of June 2015.
Mr Burkhalter and Mr Kishida also spoke about the work of the Geneva-based Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), which supports local projects seeking to reduce the risk of radicalisation among vulnerable groups, making it less likely that their members will be recruited by terrorists. Switzerland is providing approximately CHF 5 million to support the GCERF in its first four years.
The two foreign ministers also discussed security issues from a bilateral perspective. For example, Mr Burkhalter spoke with Mr Kishida about the possibility of launching a bilateral dialogue at the level of experts on security aspects in the broadest sense.
Mr Burkhalter and Mr Kishida also praised the excellent bilateral relations between Switzerland and Japan, which found expression in numerous events in 2014 to mark the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. With a trade volume of approximately CHF 9.5 billion (2013), Japan is Switzerland's second most important trading partner in Asia and a priority country for Switzerland in the areas of education, research and innovation.
From Sendai, Mr Burkhalter will fly on 15 March to Jakarta, where he will hold political talks with representatives of the new Indonesian government and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Mr Burkhalter will then travel to Sri Lanka for political talks.
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