While the Western world is trying to rally international support for tougher sanctions against Tehran to stop its nuclear-weapons program, Austria seems to seek even closer ties with the mullahs. Instead of isolating the Islamic Republic, Vienna just welcomed Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran’s foreign minister, who in 2006 gave the opening speech at Tehran’s Holocaust denial conference.
Despite media reports of American, British and French opposition to the visit, the Austrian government proceeded Sunday with holding a reception for Mr. Mottaki. As he shook hands with Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, the flag of the Islamic Republic flew on top of the building of the foreign ministry, together with those of Austria and the European Union. During the joint press conference, Mr. Spindelegger stated that “dialogue is a central element” and urged Iran to cooperate so that sanctions could be avoided. Mr. Mottaki claimed that the meeting was held in a very pleasant atmosphere and called his Austrian counterpart “my friend.”
In response to the visit’s critics, Vienna claims to have sent a clear message to Iran. But although Austria’s foreign minister also spoke about the possibility of further sanctions against Tehran, the warm welcome for the Iranian foreign minister did much to improve the regime’s international image.
And to what degree Austria, one of the rotating members of the United Nations Security Council, would actually support tough sanctio…