Swiss News meets the US Ambassador: President George W. Bush's Ambassador to Switzerland Pamela Willeford holds what is regarded in the US diplomatic community as a plum post. Swiss News columnist Robert Anderson recently posed a few questions to the American ambassador.

AuteurAnderson, Robert
Fonction Interview

Swiss News: Ambassador Willeford, on November 25, 2003 you presented your credentials to the Swiss president and assumed the pest of US Ambassador to Switzerland. What was that day like for you?

Pamela Willeford: It was a very memorable day and certainly a highlight of my professional career. I was honored to meet President Couchepin and to begin my term as the US Ambassador to Switzerland.

Your relationship with President George W. Bush spans 20 years, going back to Texas. As his Ambassador to Switzerland, how de you cope with all the negative press and criticism directed against your boss? And how de you feel about America's recently tarnished imago abroad?

The President has some vocal critics in Switzerland and the media are fond of painting him as one-dimensional. The person I know is quite different. He is intelligent, thoughtful, honest, caring and serious about doing what he believes is right for America and for our position in the world.

Nevertheless, people have a right to their opinions and I appreciate that a portion of the Swiss population does not agree with our policies. That's the benefit of democracy--everyone is allowed to express his or her opinion. Thanks to President Bush, the people of Iraq enjoy that freedom today.

With regard to our image abroad, I take a longer-term view. The United States has long been a force for good throughout the world, supporting the spread of democracy and freedom. You can find evidence of that from Germany to Japan and from the Ukraine to Iraq.

In your opinion, is the government in Bern moving fast enough to implement legislation to free up Iraqi assets frozen in Switzerland, which are designated for the reconstruction efforts in Iraq?

The government of Switzerland has accomplished a lot since the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1483 in May of 2003. Large shares of the Iraqi assets identified in Switzerland were frozen during the 1990s under UNSC Resolution 661.

However, the Swiss Government needed a legal basis to allow for the confiscation and transfer of these funds back to the Iraqi people. For this purpose, the Federal Council approved specific regulations in May 2004. An initial tranche of Iraqi funds were transferred to the Development Fund for Iraq in December 2004. We understand that the Swiss Government intends to transfer a second tranche of funds in the coming months. The transfer of the remaining assets will depend on the outcome of an appeals process by individuals and...

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