On the first official visit of a U.S. Secretary of State to Bern in more than 20 years, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo spoke of the U.S. and Switzerland as “natural partners.” During his visit from May 31 to June 1, 2019, Secretary Pompeo met Switzerland’s Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis for a bilateral meeting and a subsequent press conference.
He also met Health Organization Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, as well as business leaders from Switzerland. The Secretary made sure to experience Switzerland’s local culture: he engaged with the Embassy community, toured the old city of Bern and visited Gruyères.
“Today we are driving towards even greater cooperation,” Secretary Pompeo said during the press event with Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis on June 2, which took place at the Castel Grande in Bellinzona. At their joint press conference, Cassis and Pompeo spoke about the broad scope of Swiss-U.S. relations. “We in the United States have enormous respect and appreciation for Switzerland and the role that your nation plays all around the world,” said Pompeo. “We know that Switzerland prizes its neutrality but never shies away from defending its values, including democracy, peace, and good governance” worldwide.
He added that President Trump “was proud to be the first U.S. president ever to host a Swiss president at the White House,” referring to Swiss Present Ueli Maurer’s visit to Washington, DC on May 16, 2019. Pompeo also expressed gratitude for Switzerland’s help in protecting U.S. interests in Iran. The United States, he said, is “deeply appreciative” of Switzerland’s willingness to perform consular services for U.S. citizens.
Watch the Secretary’s video with the highlights of the bilateral meeting here.
Honoring Swiss-U.S. Economic Ties
In addition to our countries’ security cooperation and bilateral ties, the Secretary also underscored the strong Swiss-U.S. economic partnership. As democracies with a shared commitment to the rule of law and free-market capitalism, Switzerland and the United States are closely linked through trade and investment. In 2017, total U.S. goods-and-services trade with Switzerland reached $121.9 billion. Switzerland is the 7th largest foreign direct investor in the United States, where Swiss companies invest in research & development, create high-paying jobs, and share expertise to build apprenticeship programs.
Similarly, the U.S. is one of the largest foreign investors in Switzerland as well. “It’s easy to see why American businesses love to do business here in Switzerland,” said Pompeo at the press conference in Bellinzona. Switzerland has “a central location here in Europe; it has financial and political stability, first-class infrastructure, and a highly trained workforce. It’s a great place for American businesses to come and work.” Furthermore, our two nations continue to explore a potential bilateral trade agreement.
Ambassador McMullen was honored to host a dinner for Secretary Pompeo and Swiss business leaders at his official residence in Bern, where they discussed the favorable investment climate and business opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.
Secretary Pompeo also got a taste of Swiss culture during his visit! He met our Embassy Bern community, where he thanked everyone for their work to further strengthen Swiss-U.S. relations. He also toured Bern, where he visited the Federal Palace, walked through old town to see the Zytglogge tower and Münster Cathedral, and enjoyed the extraordinary view from Rosengarten. Lastly, the Secretary stopped in Gruyères, where he visited the castle and learned about cheese and chocolate making at local factories.
More About the Visit
Have a look at our Flickr album to see photos from the Secretary and his various stops and meetings in Switzerland. While in Switzerland, Secretary Pompeo took the time to sit down for interviews with local media, during which he explained U.S. foreign and security policy and talked about Swiss-U.S. bilateral relations. Read them here: