Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
THURSDAY, 24 APR 2014
03:48 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
18 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Austrian president weighs visit to Iran
Reuters
Austrian President Heinz Fischer. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer
Austrian President Heinz Fischer. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer
A+ A-

VIENNA: Austrian President Hans Fischer has been invited to Iran, a country keen to revive ties with the EU member that for centuries was Tehran's bridgehead to Europe.

If he accepts, he would become the first Western head of state to visit since the election last year of relative moderate President Hassan Rouhani on a platform of relieving Iran's isolation by engaging constructively with its adversaries.

Austria has not yet decided whether Fischer - perhaps accompanied by Austrian business leaders - would visit, a step fraught with political significance amid U.S. pressure on Western countries to limit business with Iran.

"The president has received an invitation to visit Iran," Fischer's spokesman said on Wednesday, declining to give any more details given the delicate diplomacy at stake.

The United States warned France this month that French companies - which sent executives to Tehran - would be punished if they violated U.S. sanctions with Iran over its disputed nuclear programme.

A senior U.S. official also visited Vienna last month to voice concern that Austrian companies, hoping to win post-sanctions business in Iran after an interim nuclear deal with world powers, visited Tehran in December.

That deal obliged Tehran to suspend its most sensitive atomic work in return for some relief from economic sanctions that have been imposed by the United Nations, United States and European Union.

Austria is hosting a first round of a new set of talks this week that aim to strike a final accord between Iran and the six global powers - the United States, Russia and China and EU members Britain, France and Germany.

Iran has also invited Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz to visit but a decision is still pending, the Foreign Ministry said.

"This would obviously depend on the way the talks are progressing with Iran," one diplomatic source said.

Iran had contacted Austria when its centrist coalition of Social Democrats and conservative People's Party took office again late last year after September elections.

"For one reason or another the Iranians have always considered us as a country which never in history was hostile," the source said, citing good ties that stretch back into the Habsburg empire.

European companies are sizing up the potential of an end to the economic isolation of Iran, attracted by an urgent need to overhaul its creaking infrastructure, a young population of 76 million and massive oil and gas reserves.

Gerhard Roiss, chief executive of Austrian oil and gas group OMV, was non-committal when asked by reporters whether he might accompany Fischer to Iran.

"It's too early to answer that but the important thing is to be in dialogue with Iran and we are," he said at OMV's annual results news conference. "There is no invitation to Fischer's trip yet. I believe no dates have yet been set."

U.S. officials have taken a dim view of foreign companies' eagerness to line up business now banned with Iran.

"The major parts of our sanctions are in place and our underlying sanctions architecture is in place both on the oil side, on the financial and banking side, and if people try to evade our sanctions, we will find them," a senior Obama administration official told reporters in Vienna on Monday.

Austria's ties with Iran have already come under scrutiny.

Its counter-terrorism agency said in September it was checking dozens of cases in which foreign countries including Iran and North Korea may have tried to obtain technology that can be used to make weapons of mass destruction.

 
Home Middle East
 
     
 
Iran / Austria
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Story Summary
Austrian President Hans Fischer has been invited to Iran, a country keen to revive ties with the EU member that for centuries was Tehran's bridgehead to Europe.

Austria has not yet decided whether Fischer -- perhaps accompanied by Austrian business leaders -- would visit, a step fraught with political significance amid U.S. pressure on Western countries to limit business with Iran.

A senior U.S. official also visited Vienna last month to voice concern that Austrian companies, hoping to win post-sanctions business in Iran after an interim nuclear deal with world powers, visited Tehran in December.

Austria's ties with Iran have already come under scrutiny.
Related Articles
 
 
Rouhani says Iran sanctions will unravel in months
 
 
US official:Iran nuclear deal to be drafted in May
 
 
Iran rejects U.S. ban on U.N. envoy, vows action
Iran ready for post-sanction investments
Europe will be critical in driving negotiations with Iran
Show More
Entities
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Wednesday, April 23, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
For Christians, blessed are the dividers
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
An Iran deal is close, but we’re not there yet
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS