Swiss government refuses re-export of arms to Ukraine

GENEVA (Reuters) - Switzerland's government said on Friday it will not change its long-standing policy banning the transfer of Swiss-made arms to a third country despite growing pressure from European nations to export them to Ukraine.

Calls for Switzerland to break with centuries of tradition as a neutral state have been growing both internally and externally since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago. In January, two parliamentary committees recommended that the rules be eased.

However, the cabinet rejected the call following a meeting.

"The Federal Council is committed to the values of Swiss neutrality and will continue to work to ensure the benefits of neutrality are realised," it said in a statement. However, it said it would continue to monitor the debates and make a further statement "if necessary".

Since the war began, Switzerland has received requests from Germany, Denmark and Spain for the re-export of Swiss war material to Ukraine but those requests were all denied. It has however adopted the European Union's sanctions and has repeatedly called for a withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Noele Illien)