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Austrian chancellor to visit Berne in late March

The new Austrian chancellor, Wolfgang Schüssel, will be making his first official visit abroad to Switzerland, at the end of this month. The Austrian authorities said he would be in Berne on either March 29 or 31.

This content was published on March 3, 2000 - 20:51

The new Austrian chancellor, Wolfgang Schüssel, will be making his first official visit abroad to Switzerland, at the end of this month. The Austrian authorities said he would be in Berne on either March 29 or 31.

The visit is in line with tradition, according to which a new chancellor makes his first foreign visit to Berne. Switzerland has made it clear that it wants to respect the tradition and maintain good neighbourly relations, despite international criticism of the new coalition in Vienna, which includes the far-right Freedom Party.

Austria's 14 European Union partners have frozen bilateral relations with Vienna in protest at the party's presence in the government. However, Swiss ministers have repeatedly maintained that the composition of Austria's government is an internal matter.

The Swiss authorities have declined to comment on a date and agenda for the visit by Schüssel.

Next Wednesday, Austria's foreign minister, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, will be making her first official visit to Switzerland. She is due to meet her Swiss counterpart, Joseph Deiss, but it is not yet clear whether she will also meet the Swiss president, Adolf Ogi.

From staff and wire reports

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