0113 GMT February 17, 2020
Switzerland acts as an intermediary between the United States and Iran, through its offices. Recent tensions between Washington and Tehran have brought its messenger role into the spotlight.
For more than a year and a half, Switzerland has also been working on a payment channel for Swiss companies and banks that would allow humanitarian goods to be delivered to Iran, despite US sanctions on the country. This is known as the “Swiss Humanitarian Trade Agreement (SHTA)”, SRF said. Negotiations have been held on the issue with the US.
The SHTA will be the subject of “high-level bilateral talks” at the WEF, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO external link) confirmed to SRF on Sunday.
The WEF’s external link, which runs from January 21-24 in the Swiss mountain resort, is expected to attract around 500 high-profile business and political figures, and other leaders of society.
In an interview ahead of Davos with SRF, published in English on swissinfo.ch on Friday, Iran’s Ambassador in Bern, Mohammad Reza Haji Karim Jabbari, spoke about the possible humanitarian trade channel for the first time.
The ambassador said that Iran appreciated Switzerland’s role in trying to establish the channel and that fact that the country had conducted “extensive negotiations with the US government”. He said there was shortage of medicine and medical supplies in Iran and “the root of the medicine shortage lies in the blocking of our banking system” by the US.