9 September, 2005 - Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik met with her US counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, for the first time for talks in Washington. The visit served to ensure the optimal preparation of the Austrian EU Presidency with the important partner USA.
"Together we can move a lot of things in a positive direction", said Foreign Minister Plassnik, referring to the wide range of topics and issues which concern both Europe and the US and on which cooperation will focus during Austria’s EU Presidency.
"This commemorative year, in which we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of our Second Republic and the 50th anniversary of the State Treaty, gives us special occasion to remember that reconstruction would not have been conceivable without the determined commitment of the US to peace and freedom", said Plassnik. "Now we are helping to support peace and democracy together with our partners in the EU and the US", she added.
Plassnik emphasised that the Balkans would be an issue of special concern to the Transatlantic Partnership during the Austrian EU Presidency: "Austria’s expertise in this field is highly esteemed. I informed Condoleezza Rice about the Balkans Conference scheduled for March 2006 in Austria, and discussed with her other priorities of our EU Presidency such as the Middle East, where efforts are currently under way to return to the "Road Map for Peace". We both hope for smooth elections on September 18 in Afghanistan, where Austria is participating actively in ISAF."
"In the future, the dialogue between civilisations, religions and cultures will be a central theme for our societies. I informed Secretary of State Rice about the Austrian initiative to organise an international high-level conference in Vienna in November, which met with great interest", said Plassnik.
In the wake of the hurricane disaster, the Foreign Minister once more expressed her sympathy to Condoleezza Rice, who expressed her explicit thanks for the Austrian assistance offered. "Unfortunately, the events of the last few days have shown that we are all vulnerable. I therefore suggested to my counterpart that we should make use of our common experiences to help the people affected quickly and effectively", said Plassnik.
In spring 2005 President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had paid a visit to the European institutions. Plassnik stressed that Austria would continue her work within this network during her Presidency, which coincided with the EU-US summit.
"During our talks, which were held in a very cordial atmosphere, the musician Condoleezza Rice also told me of her never-ending love of Mozart", concluded Plassnik.