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|Friday, December 08, 2000, updated at 19:35(GMT+8)|
Switzerland Affirms Intention to Join European UnionSwiss President Adolf Ogi has assured European Union (EU) leaders that Switzerland is keen to join the 15-nation bloc, according to Swiss Radio International.
Talking with EU leaders Thursday in the southern French city of Nice, Ogi expressed Switzerland's interest in new bilateral negotiations with the EU, and emphasized his country's support for EU expansion.
A key objective of the Nice summit is to agree on ways of streamlining the EU's decision-making abilities to accommodate up to 12 new members. The Swiss Radio reported that the Swiss government wants to join the EU, but Bern has committed itself to wait until at least 2004 before starting membership negotiations.
Switzerland has been attending the European Conference since 1998 with the status of "designate member."
Unlike the other aspiring members at the meeting, including Turkey, Cyprus and the eastern and central European countries, Switzerland rejected membership of the EU in a nationwide vote in 1992.
Last May, Swiss voters approved a series of bilateral agreements with the EU, but polls show that a majority of the public is still opposed to full membership.
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