Henry Anatole Grunwald on Wednesday presented his credentials as U.S. ambassador to President Kurt Waldheim, but the new envoy told Austrian Radio that he will not attend social functions involving Waldheim.
Grunwald, 65, refused to comment on his meeting with Waldheim in the president's Hofburg palace. Grunwald is Jewish and fled his native Vienna after Austria was incorporated into Nazi Germany in 1938.
The World Jewish Congress has accused Waldheim of being involved in Nazi atrocities in Yugoslavia and Greece when he served as a lieutenant in the German army during World War II. Austria regained full independence and neutrality in 1955.
Waldheim has denied any wrongdoing.
Elected in 1986
The United States has placed Waldheim on a list of undesirable aliens, effectively barring the former U.N. secretary general from entering the country unless on diplomatic business. Waldheim was elected to the largely ceremonial president's post in 1986.
Grunwald told Austrian Radio that he will attend state functions hosted by Waldheim when required by State Department protocol to do so.
"At social occasions, I won't be there," Grunwald told the radio.
No reporters were allowed to be present when Grunwald met Waldheim in the Hofburg after reviewing a 120-man honor guard outside the palace. Four photographers were allowed in.
In a brief statement, the U.S. Embassy said that the ceremony was a normal procedure for a new ambassador.
"One should not read any further significance into it," the statement said.
A former editor in chief of Time Inc., Grunwald replaces Ronald S. Lauder as ambassador. Lauder, a former executive vice president of Estee Lauder Inc., is rumored to be considering running for the Senate from New York.