Indian president pays state visit to Switzerland

The Swiss government is hosting Indian President Pratibha Patil in the capital Bern for talks on boosting bilateral relations, including financial and research cooperation.

During the two-day visit Patil will be received by the entire cabinet, including President and Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, and will travel to the Lake Geneva region on Tuesday.

The two delegations are also planning to sign a memorandum of understanding between India and Lausanne University.

Switzerland is hoping to conclude negotiations on a free trade agreement with New Delhi., launched in 2008, by the end of this year.

India is among the top four trading partners of Switzerland in Asia. The trade volume between the two countries stood at SFr3.6 billion ($3.95 billion) last year.

Patil, accompanied by a large delegation of business representatives, will also visit neighbouring Austria during her week-long visit to Europe. and agencies

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