VIENNA (Apr. 4)
The Austrian government will start negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization this week on possibilities of opening a PLO office in Vienna. Austrian Foreign Minister Erich Bielka-Karltreu said PLO “foreign minister” Faroud Khadumi is expected in Vienna early this week to have talks with Austrian officials on a PLO office in Vienna.
“Such a step would not mean that the Austrian government recognized the PLO diplomatically.” Bielka-Karltreu said. “This is not the recognition of a government-in-exile.” However, he added, “the PLO can no longer be ignored in international politics. It is the only Palestinian organization with which talks can be held on the Middle East situation.” Bielka-Karltreu said he was prepared to meet with Khadumi personally.
Israeli diplomatic sources expressed surprise and concern by this step. “This is the first time a West European foreign minister plans to receive Khadumi,” a diplomat said.