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Ex-minister nominated as UN assembly president

Former cabinet minister Joseph Deiss has been put forward by Switzerland as president of the 65th United Nations General Assembly for 2010/2011.

This content was published on September 17, 2009 - 19:17

All four main political parties – apart from the rightwing Swiss People's Party – welcomed the decision, confirmed on Thursday by the foreign ministry.

Deiss, 63, had been nominated as a candidate of the Western European and Others Group (WEOG), said a ministry spokesman, adding that Deiss "had naturally made himself available".

The WEOG is one of several unofficial regional groups in the UN that act as voting blocs and negotiation forums.

Deiss, from the centre-right Christian Democratic Party, resigned in July 2006 after seven years as a member of the cabinet.

His successes as a foreign minister (1999-2003) included Switzerland joining the United Nations in 2002 and the approval of two sets of bilateral accords with the European Union.

His critics thought less of his track record as economics minister (2003-2006), pointing out the limited impact of his programmes to kick-start the stagnant economy or the failure to negotiate a free trade agreement with the United States.

The presidency of the UN General Assembly rotates annually between five geographic groups: African, Asian, Eastern European, Latin American and Caribbean, and Western European and other States. The position is currently held by Libyan diplomat Ali Abdussalam Treki.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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