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Swiss President Appeals to Clinton

July 23, 1998

BERN, Switzerland (AP) _ Switzerland’s president has appealed to President Clinton to stop U.S. cities and states from imposing sanctions on Swiss banks, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

A number of cities and states in the United States have threatened to impose sanctions on Switzerland’s two major banks if they do not agree to an acceptable settlement over the return of Holocaust survivors’ assets, held in accounts since World War II.

In a letter, President Flavio Cotti warned Clinton that the sanction threats are ``undermining the traditionally good relations″ between Switzerland and the United States.

The Clinton administration, which has praised Switzerland for its efforts to assess its wartime past and make amends for any wrongdoing, has repeatedly said it opposes the sanctions.

``We are in basic agreement ... that sanctions are inappropriate,″ Madeleine Kunin, U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, said in a statement.

Jewish leaders on June 19 rejected an offer by the Swiss banks to pay $600 million to settle the claims.

Surrounded by Germany, Nazi-occupied France and Nazi-allied Italy, wartime Switzerland took in nearly 30,000 Jews during World War II. But it turned away an equal number, many of them to a certain death.

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