Swiss aid chief to become US ambassador

Martin Dahinden has been head of SDC since 2008 Keystone

Martin Dahinden, head of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), has been appointed ambassador to the United States. His move had been widely expected.

This content was published on November 13, 2013 - 15:32 and agencies

He takes over the post from Manuel Sager, who has been appointed Head of the SDC Cooperation with Eastern Europe division in Bern, the government announced on Wednesday.

Born in 1955, Dahinden has been head of the SDC since 2008. His previous post was at the helm of the foreign ministry’s Corporate Management section. From 2000 to 2004 he had been director of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining.

He joined the diplomatic service in 1987. During his career, he has held posts in Geneva, Paris, Nigeria and New York.

The SDC, which had a budget of CHF1.8 billion ($2 billion) in 2012, is currently undergoing some change. The Swiss foreign ministry plans to merge SDC offices with its embassies to improve the coordination of Swiss activities abroad, it was announced in August.

Dahinden’s new job – which had already been reported by the Swiss media in October - came as part of a string of appointments for 2014. Also going to new posts are Beat Nobs, currently Head of the Asia and Pacific Division of the foreign ministry’s Directorate of Political Affairs in Bern, who will be ambassador to Canada and Jean-Jacques de Dardel, currently Head of Mission in Paris, who will head up the embassy in China.

On Thursday the job vacancy for SDC director was officially posted by the foreign ministry. It is looking for a “cosmopolitan and dynamic personality” who has the power of persuasion and the ability to assert him or herself. The candidate should also have plenty of relevant experience, but also know the workings of the federal administration, the job advert said.

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