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U.S., Austria Normalize Ties as Reaction to Rightists Eases

November 09, 2000|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The United States and Austria normalized relations Wednesday after a nine-month chill brought on by the rise in Austria's government of a rightist party accused of Nazi leanings.

"This is a very happy moment for Austria," Foreign Minister Benita-Maria Ferrero-Waldner said after a meeting with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

But Ferrero-Waldner also repeated her government's assertion that the treatment by the United States--and sanctions imposed by the European Union but since lifted--were unjust.

The State Department said Albright and Ferrero-Waldner were "pleased with the progress the two countries are making together on a number of fronts."

It said in a statement that U.S.-Austrian relations are ready to "regain their normal, productive profile" partly because of the work Austria has done recently to set up a fund to compensate World War II slave laborers.

The EU sanctions were levied in February after conservative Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel brought members of the far-right Freedom Party into his government. Joerg Haider, the party's former leader, had long been criticized for remarks he made that showed sympathy with Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

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