GENEVA (AP) - Handing out chocolate and special-issue Swatches, the Swiss kicked off ceremonies Monday to end decades of splendid isolation and follow the rest of the world into the United Nations.
But in a final gesture of independence, they made it clear they would not change their flag.
The U.N. General Assembly is expected to formally admit Switzerland as its 190th member during a ceremony in New York Tuesday. To the accompaniment of the Swiss Army Band, the country's flag - a white cross on red background - will then be hoisted to flutter as a lone square among the sea of rectangles.
"Finally Switzerland will be at home as a member of the U.N. family," declared Bertrand Louis, ambassador to U.N. offices in Geneva.