The diplomatic isolation that has dogged President Kurt Waldheim as a result of the exposure of his Nazi past during last summer’s election campaign, may have ended. The daily Neue Kronenzeitung reported Thursday that he will visit Japan in the near future, at the invitation of Emperor Hirohito.
Waldheim, who won the election last July 8 despite evidence that he abetted atrocities while serving as a Wehrmacht intelligence officer in the Balkans during World War II, had so far received none of the invitations to visit abroad that normally go to a chief of state. Invitations extended to his predecessor, which he might have honored, were withdrawn.
His isolation was broken briefly during the Helsinki follow-up Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe which was held in Vienna. The Foreign Ministers of the Soviet Union, West Germany, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland and Cyprus paid him courtesy calls. But other dignitaries, notably U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, made their visits to Vienna contingent on not meeting Waldheim either in official capacity or by chance.
Nevertheless, the President has drawn sympathy in some quarters. On Wednesday evening, the Arab embassies in Vienna gave a dinner in honor of Waldheim at which the Saudi Arabian Ambassador commiserated with him.
“The Arab world has observed the evil campaign against the Presidential candidate with disgust. It had not been directed against him as a person, but to discredit the credibility of the United Nations,” the Saudi envoy said. Waldheim served two terms as UN Secretary General.
Another dinner in honor of Waldheim was organized several weeks ago by the Spanish Ambassador and Ambassadors from Latin American countries. The Mexican envoy, Cuevas Cancino, said on that occasion that he rejects “the slanderous campaign against Austria and her head of state with horror.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.