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Swiss seek progress on U.S. tax deal: economy minister

Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann looks on during a news conference on the upcoming popular vote on the new animal disease law
Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann looks on during a news conference on the upcoming popular vote on the new animal disease law

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland hopes to restart talks with the U.S. over a long-simmering tax dispute following the re-election of president Obama, its economy minister was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Switzerland is trying to reach a deal to end investigations by U.S. tax authorities into 11 banks, including Credit Suisse and Julius Baer , suspected of helping clients dodge U.S. taxes with the help of offshore bank accounts.

It needs the tax deal so that it can normalize its banking relations with the United States and wants the investigations dropped in return for the payment of hefty fines by the Swiss banks and the transfer of names of thousands of U.S. clients.

"We are seeking clarification quickly," Johann Schneider-Ammann told the Zentralschweiz am Sonntag newspaper. "The situation has been blocked recently. That must now change."

The talks had stalled in the run-up to the U.S. election, and finance minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf has suggested the ball is firmly in the U.S. court.

The two countries are at odds over U.S. demands for Switzerland to hand over bank data from before 2009.

In a separate interview with the BaslerZeitung at the weekend, Credit Suisse Chairman Urs Rohner said the unresolved tax deal was a burden.

"We are doing everything that we can and may to resolve the problem. But in the end there is a need for a solution that all involved will have to agree to."

(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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