Vienna, 24 January 2007 - At the invitation of French President Jacques Chirac Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik will participate in an international conference on Lebanon to be held on Thursday, 25 January 2007 in Paris. At this meeting, which will also be attended by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, the international community of states will discuss further political and financial aid for the reconstruction and long-term stabilisation of the country. Further participants in this conference will include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and leading representatives of international financial institutions.
On the following day Plassnik will attend the meeting of foreign ministers of the countries participating in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan. These talks will focus on the political development in Afghanistan and the difficult security situation in the country. Within the framework of the NATO-led ISAF forces, four Austrian staff officers are supporting the Afghan government in maintaining security in Kabul and its surrounding areas. In addition, an Austrian infantry regiment of about 100 soldiers was active within the framework of ISAF from August to October 2005 in the north of Afghanistan to help safeguard the necessary security during provincial and parliamentary elections.
Following this meeting the Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht has issued an invitation to an exchange of opinions to be held at an informal lunch of the foreign ministers of the EU and NATO. On this occasion the foreign ministers will discuss two further focal points of foreign policy, namely Kosovo and the Middle East. A key concern from the Austrian point of view is that special attention be paid to close coordination and cooperation between the two organisations in their efforts to meet the challenges in these regions.
Contact: Ministry for Foreign Affairs Press Department Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549. 4550 Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213 abti3(at)bmaa.gv.at