Why did the UK ask the Swiss to take over its interests while breaking diplomatic relations with Argentina?

Right after the Argentine invasion of the Falklands…
The British Ambassador in Buenos Aires reports that his government is breaking diplomatic relations with Argentina and asking the Swiss to take over its interests.
Is it a general practice that the Swiss will get involved a dispute if country A decides to break diplomatic relations with country B?
Thank you very much.

They’re a reliable neutral country, but they don’t always get asked.

For instance, Britain asked Sweden to look after its interests in Iran after the 2012 dust-up.

Probably a question of which neutral country is willing to take on the job and has the local resources to do so.

Thank you.
But can those neutral countries say no to whatever country requests them to take over their interests in a dispute?

The role is referred to as a “protecting power”:

It’s completely voluntary on the part of the country playing the role of the protecting power. No country is under any sort of obligation to take on that role.

The protecting power doesn’t really need to be “neutral”, either - it just needs to have formal diplomatic relations with both countries and have a diplomatic presence in both. Of course, if your protecting power also breaks off relations with the country it’s protecting your interests in, it doesn’t do you any good, so countries will often ask traditional neutrals that have a history of highly stable diplomatic relations, like Sweden and Switzerland.

In the case of the U.S. and Iran, which mutually broke off formal diplomatic relations in 1979, Switzerland is the protecting power of the U.S. in Iran, while Pakistan is the protecting power of Iran in the U.S. Note that Pakistan is not a traditionally neutral country, but it has historically had good relations with both the U.S. and with Iran, so it’s well-suited to act as a go-between.

Yeah it’s not always the swiss but it’s a common thing.
Cutting off diplomatic relations is a purely symbolic thing, you still need all the practical side of diplomatic relations. As well the negotiations associated with going to war (or trying to avoid going to war) there is still more humdrum side of what embassies do.

My sister got married in Serbia soon after the Kosovo conflict when the UK had no diplomatic relations with Serbia. The visa applications had to go via the “Serbian special interest section” of the Cyprus embassy (in this case it was anything but a neutral party, Cyprus being very much in Serbia’s corner during the conflict)

Well, unless you’re worried that the host country will invade you embassy and capture your diplomatic staff, of course.

Thank you all.
Can the practice of protecting power also be applied between China and Taiwan, which has de facto “diplomatic relations” with the rising power?

Aside of those very few countries with which Taiwan has formal diplomatic relations, Taiwan maintains “representative offices” in other nations that are not officially recognized diplomatic missions (nor associated with another nation’s embassy) but provide consular services and represent Taiwan’s interests in the host nation.

Mainland China doesn’t even recognize that Taiwan is a country - officially it considers it a renegade province. China would never accept another country acting as a protecting power for Taiwan - it would be a direct violation of the One China policy. For that matter, for decades after the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, Taiwan technically officially considered itself the legitimate government of all of China.

In 1991, the People’s Republic of China created a quasi-public agency called the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) to deal with Taiwan, and the Republic of China established a quasi-public-but-officially-private organization called the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to deal with mainland China. Effectively, ARATS is the de facto Chinese diplomatic mission to Taiwan, and SEF is the de facto Taiwanese mission to China.

Thank you so much.