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New development aid chief appointed

The government has named Martin Dahinden as the new head of the foreign ministry's Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

This content was published on April 2, 2008 - 14:12

The 53-year-old Dahinden replaces Walter Fust, who retires at the end of the month after 15 years in the job.

The foreign ministry said Dahinden was an experienced manager with responsibility for the network of Swiss embassies and consulates, and the former head of the Geneva-based International Centre for Humanitarian Demining.

Dahinden told a news conference on Wednesday Switzerland's neutrality was a key asset but it didn't mean the country could not take a stance.

He added his aim as SDC director was to assist the poorest countries to help themselves.

The SDC - one of the largest units in the federal administration – has a staff of 620 and an annual budget of SFr1.3 billion ($1.3 billion).

Moves are underway to reorganise development aid amid plans to reduce the number of countries benefiting from Swiss assistance.

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