U.S. Offers No Proof on Waldheim, Austrian Says
Austria’s chancellor said Thursday that in two days of meetings with U.S. leaders, including President Reagan, he received no proof that Austrian President Kurt Waldheim had a “personal, direct” involvement in Nazi war crimes.
And despite assurances from the Administration that the case against Waldheim conveys no ill feeling toward Austria, Chancellor Franz Vranitzky said the decision had put his country in a “shaky light” it did not deserve.
Vranitzky, emerging from a half-hour meeting with Reagan, told reporters it appeared the United States would stick to its decision that placed Waldheim’s name on a list of foreigners barred from entering the country.
Reagan said in a statement after the meeting: “I explained to the chancellor the statutory basis for the decision. I also assured the chancellor that the United States and Austria will remain close friends. We both share a strong commitment to human rights and democracy.”
Waldheim, a former U.N. secretary general and current Austrian chief of state, was placed on the list after a yearlong inquiry into allegations he was involved in Nazi atrocities while serving as a lieutenant with the German army in the Balkans in World War II.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State George P. Shultz called the case “totally convincing,” and Vranitzky said that in his session with Reagan on Thursday, “the President raised the point at the beginning of our conversation and left the impression with me that he’s exactly in line with Mr. Shultz.”
The Austrian head of government said he was told during the White House meeting that “the American Administration could not act in any other way than they did following the U.S. law” and that the measure against Waldheim “was not directed against the Austrian people, the Austrian government.”
However, Vranitzky said in a television interview, “We cannot get rid of the impression that there has been a decision which brings the whole country into that kind of shaky light where we think we do not belong. . . .”
As for the charges against Waldheim, “our argumentation is that there was no direct, personal commitment of Mr. Waldheim into any of the war atrocities,” Vranitzky added in his interview on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning, America.”