By Thomas Stephens
As tensions rise between the United States and Iran, Switzerland’s role as intermediary between the two countries has returned to the spotlight. But why is neutral Switzerland getting involved?
On Sunday the Swiss envoy representing US interests in Tehran was summoned by Iranian authorities in protest over threats made by US President Donald Trump on Twitter. Trump said the US would target Iranian sites if Tehran attacked American citizens or assets in retaliation for the killing of military commander Qassem Soleimani.
Iran has threatened revenge after the US confirmed on Friday that Trump had ordered the strike against the head of the Iranian elite Quds force.
The Swiss foreign ministry confirmed a meeting had been held “under the protective power mandate” and said the contents of the discussion were “confidential”.
Switzerland has exercised a protecting power mandate for the US in Iran since 1980. Washington broke off relations with Tehran in 1980 over the hostage crisis that kept 52 American diplomats and citizens trapped at its embassy in Iran for 444 days.