Swiss try to avert bank sanctions

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BERN, Switzerland (AP) - The Swiss government will send a representative to a New York meeting to try to avert any US sanctions against Swiss banks and insurers over the Holocaust, officials said yesterday.

Thomas Borer, head of Switzerland's task force on the Second World War, will join US city and state officials in the meeting called for tomorrow by the New York City Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

New York State and California are among several key states that have threatened action against the banks.

Last December the state and city officials suspended action for three months to see what progress the Swiss would make in righting any wrongs to Holocaust victims or their heirs.

Switzerland's three leading banks last week rejected as "unwarranted and counterproductive" an ultimatum from the California Treasurer Matt Fong that they must reach a settlement with Holocaust victims by the end of the moratorium or face a boycott.

Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat, the top Clinton administration official dealing with the Nazi era, has opposed the imposition of city and state sanctions on Swiss banks.Meanwhile, political pressure is growing in Switzerland for countermeasures against any US sanctions.