Vienna, 26 March 2003 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner meets Tunisian foreign minister Habib Ben Yahia: regrettable that the weapons are now doing the talking


Joint efforts for a swift end to the hostilities in Iraq

Vienna, 26 March 2003 - The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, met the Tunisian foreign minister Habib Ben Yahia for working talks this afternoon. Besides bilateral issues, the talks also focussed on the current situation in the Near and Middle East.

Asked about the failed efforts and initiatives of both sides in the Iraq conflict at the joint press conference following the meeting, Ferrero-Waldner stressed that it was extremely regrettable "that the weapons are now doing the talking". She continued that the joint concern now had to be "to contribute to bringing about an end to the hostilities as swiftly as possible and to act to minimise grave consequences at the humanitarian, ecological or economic levels." In Ferrero-Waldner's opinion, the United Nations would have to play a major role in solving these humanitarian, ecological and economic problems.

With regard to the developments in the Near East, Ferrero-Waldner stated that the election of a new parliament and a new government in Israel and the appointment of a Palestinian prime minister had "brought some movement into the rigid fronts".

In conclusion, the two foreign ministers emphasised the excellent bilateral relations between Austria and Tunisia. Although these relations still had to be fully activated in the sphere of business and commerce, Tunisia continued to be a popular tourist destination for Austrian holidaymakers.