Austrian President Meets Leader

Austrian President Meets LeaderAustrian President Meets Leader

The Austrian president and his accompanying delegation met the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Tuesday.

Heinz Fischer arrived in Tehran at the head of a high-level 240-member political and economic delegation to "build bridges" with Tehran.

The meeting was part of a three-day visit, the first by a western head of state in more than a decade and a sign of the cordial relations neutral Austria has kept through years of high tension between Iran and the West.

At a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani earlier in the day, Fischer highlighted the long history of healthy relations between Tehran and Vienna, stressing that his country is seeking to develop balanced and mutually beneficial bilateral ties.

"We believe that any cooperation should not be tilted toward one side and every party involved should take its fair share of benefits," Heinz Fischer was quoted by IRNA as saying.

"We are keen on establishing a cooperation framework that equally benefits the two sides."

In a meeting between the delegates of the two countries chaired by the presidents, four documents on cooperation were signed.

"We plan to raise the value of bilateral trade to nearly €300 million by the year end," Fischer said at the press conference, predicting that the figure would continue to grow next year.

He said Austria attaches great importance to the resolution of problems facing the Middle East and its "economic and social development."                     

Vienna was the venue of a few rounds, including the last, of negotiations leading to the July historic nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China).

  Democratic Future for Syria

Rouhani thanked the Austrian government for its role in hosting the nuclear talks, expressing hope that Fischer’s visit would usher in a period of rapid development in bilateral ties to make up for a drop in trade between the two sides prompted by sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program.

The pact will give Tehran sanctions relief in return for temporary constraints on its nuclear work.

Responding to a question about Iran’s stance on efforts to help address the Syria crisis, Rouhani said steps to be taken in this regard should be prioritized, warning that, “If the first step is mistaken, we will not achieve our aim.”

“The first step is to stop the bloodshed [in Syria].”

The president added, “Tehran is ready to attend any meeting held to negotiate a secure, stable and democratic future for Syria and to hold talks with anyone that it deems necessary, including regional states and world powers.”