Spindelegger meets German leaders

People’s Party (ÖVP) Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger met with Germany’s political elite today (Fri).Spindelegger was welcomed by German President Christian Wulff at Bellevue Palace in Berlin in the morning before meeting with Bundestag MPs and the country’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) later in the day.The ÖVP official’s office explained Europe’s attempts to create peace in the Middle East and domestic integration issues dominated the talks.Austrian President Heinz Fischer met with Wulff, Swiss President Doris Leuthard and Alois von Liechtenstein, the head of the principality of Liechtenstein, in the northern German city of Lübeck last month.Wulff, who was elected in June, had already met with Fischer in Vienna in July before travelling to Italy to meet state leaders of the southern European country on the same day.Spindelegger made headlines earlier this month by announcing he had decided to shut five Austrian representations abroad during the coming years.The minister – forced to carry out significant cost cuts in his ministry as the Austrian government of the Social Democrats (SPÖ )and the ÖVP is pressured to lower the budget deficit – said the embassy in the Zimbabwean capital Harare and the consulate in Zurich, Switzerland, will stop operating next year.Spindelegger also announced the embassy in Bogota, Colombia, shuts in 2012. The minister further said the Austrian consulates in the Polish city of Krakow and Chicago in the USA would be closed. Austria currently runs 81 embassies in the world.Meanwhile, top secret cables released by online platform WikiLeaks suggest US diplomats in Europe informed their country’s administration that helping Austrian companies to do business abroad has been Spindelegger’s chief priority since taking office in 2008.