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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin, Swiss Leader Discuss Trade, Visas

ReutersSwiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey exchanging documents with Lavrov during a meeting in Moscow on Friday.
President Vladimir Putin on Friday welcomed growing trade ties with Switzerland during talks in the Kremlin with his Swiss counterpart, which included a request by Switzerland to ease visa regulations.

President Micheline Calmy-Rey came to Moscow a day after a Swiss court ordered the early release from prison of Viktor Kaloyev, a former architect jailed for killing an air traffic controller he blamed for the death of his family in a 2001 plane collision.

Neither Putin nor Calmy-Rey mentioned Kaloyev in the part of their meeting open to reporters, but the Kremlin said in a statement that his early release was a "positive setting" for the talks.

Putin said bilateral trade turnover had more than doubled in the past four years, adding that Swiss investment into Russia had doubled in 2007 alone.

The Kremlin said Russian investments into Switzerland were about $2.5 billion last year, while Swiss investment into Russia was $5.9 billion in the first six months of this year.

Bilateral trade hit $13.4 billion in 2006 and was $9.3 billion in the first eight months of this year, the statement said.

Calmy-Rey also praised growing economic ties, adding that Geneva was a major center for Russian oil companies.

Switzerland is where oil trader Gunvor, which is half-owned by close Putin ally Gennady Timchenko, is registered.

Calmy-Rey also said the Russian diaspora in Switzerland was growing, adding, "I believe we'll be able to discuss the issues of easing the visa regulations between our countries."

After the talks, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia could sign a visa facilitation and readmission treaty with Switzerland early next year, The Associated Press reported.