LONDON (Mar. 21)
The World Jewish Congress has accused a ranking Austrian government official of “a shocking attempt to incite anti-Jewish hatred in an Arab country.”
The WJC made that charge last Friday against Thomas Klestil, director general of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, who was quoted by the Kuwait News Agency as saying that Austria “will not succumb to Zionist threats and pressures to remove President Kurt Waldheim from his office.”
There was no immediate reaction to the charges from the Austrian government.
Klestil, who visited Kuwait on a tour of Persian Gulf states, is a former Austrian ambassador to the United States, which has barred entry to Waldheim because of his Nazi past.
The WJC, in a statement issued here, also accused Klestil of “trying to draw attention away from the fact that Austria’s own commission concluded that Waldheim had continuously lied about his wartime activities and had personally facilitated Nazi war crimes.”
The commission was an international panel of historians the Austrian government asked to examine Waldheim’s record while serving as a German army intelligence officer in the Balkans during World War II. It was asked to determine the veracity of charges that Waldheim was involved in the deportation of Greek Jews and in other atrocities. The commission submitted its report Feb. 8.
Klestil said Sheik Jabir al-Ahmad a-Sabah, the Kuwaiti leader, has invited Waldheim to visit his country, the news agency reported.
Since taking office in 1986, Waldheim has been diplomatically isolated by most of the world. His only official visit abroad was to the Vatican for a meeting with Pope John Paul II in June 1987. The only chief of state to visit him in Vienna was King Hussein of Jordan.