Hannes Richter

Austria and the U.S. Deepen Their Relationsship

Hannes Richter

Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hold bilateral meeting at the State Department

by Anja Mayer

It may have been his first time to visit the Department of State, but it certainly was not Austrian Foreign Minister Spindelegger’s first meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was actually their third meeting within a few weeks, and the second one on the same day.

Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Photo: Dragan Tatic

The last time they met formally was outside the United Nations Security Council chamber, when Mr. Spindelegger presented Secretary Clinton with an original Sacher cake. The occasion was October 26th, the Austrian National Day, which was coincidentally Secretary of State Clinton’s Birthday. During Austria’s two year membership in the United Nations Security Council from 2009-2010, the U.S. and Austria were not only neighbors in the Security Council chamber, they also worked closely together on a number of key foreign policy issues – among them the situation in Sudan, sanctions against Iran, and the implementation of SC-Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

When the situation in Sudan called for a morning meeting on November 16, 2010, that same afternoon Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger and Secretary of State Clinton met at the State Department. It was the first bilateral meeting between the U.S. and Austrian foreign ministers since 2005.

“U.S.-Austrian relations are strong. They are based on mutual interests and shared ideals” Secretary of State Clinton said at a press conference after the meeting. Underscoring the excellent working relationship between the two ministers, the Secretary of State was “pleased that we have this opportunity to reaffirm the bonds of friendship between our two countries.”

Among the subjects discussed by the U.S. Secretary of State and the Austrian Foreign Minister were global security and nonproliferation, the mission in Afghanistan, and peacekeeping in the Balkans and the Golan Heights. Secretary Clinton welcomed the extension of Austrian participation in the peacekeeping missions in the Balkans and the Golan Heights, pointing out that “the 1,700 Austrian military police and civilian personnel serving these missions have had a profound global impact."

Even with the end of the Austrian membership in the UN Security Council, Foreign Minister Spindelegger emphasized that Austria would continue to work closely with the United States and be actively engaged in areas of common interest, such as the situation in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mr. Spindelegger also extended an invitation to Secretary of State Clinton to come to Vienna.