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Former Swiss state secretary dies

Raymond Probst acted as an intermediary in the US hostage crisis in Iran in 1979 Keystone Archive

A former state secretary in Switzerland, Raymond Probst, has died at the age of 82 after a short illness. He spent 42 years as a Swiss diplomat, acting as an intermediary in a number of crises, including the taking of American hostages in Teheran.

This content was published on May 10, 2001 - 12:39

Probst was in favour of an active and pragmatic foreign policy, and an advocate of United Nations membership.

Probst was born in 1919 in Geneva, and was then brought up in Biel and Latvia, where his father worked for the Swiss watch industry.

After obtaining a doctorate in law at the University of Bern, Probst worked for the foreign and economics ministries, where he held senior positions.

In 1976, Probst became Switzerland's ambassador in Washington. He considered his role as an intermediary in the case of the American hostages held in Iran in 1979 and 1980 as the highlight of his career. Switzerland has acted as intermediary between the US and Iran since 1979.

Probst was nominated state secretary in 1980, a post he held until his retirement in 1984. Two years later, he represented British interests after war broke out with Argentina in the Falkland Islands.

After his retirement, he became a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He also took part in a group which studied the work of the Bergier Commission, which re-examined Switzerland's role during the Second World War.

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