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Austria building East-West bridges 25 years later

A month before the actuall anniversary, Austria has begun celebrating the silver jubilee of the treaty that restored its independence after World War II. But it is not a celebration that looks only to the past. The government of Bruno Kreisky sees it as an occasion to try to salvage the remnants of detente.

Already Austria has staged a reenactment of the arrival home of then Foreign Minister Leopold Figl after he secured Soviet concessions on sticking points that delayed Austrian independence for 10 years after the war.

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On May 15, 1955, Austria and the Soviets joined FRance, Britain, and the United States in signing the treaty.

Subsequently Austria tried to use its neutrality as a "bridge" between East and West. It built a "UN city" and gives the international organization rent-free office space.

Now officials hope to use the May 15 celebration to explore the possibility of fostering better relations between the Soviet Union and the US.

They are extending their observance to May 16 to enable Soviets to attend. The US, British, and French foreign ministers have accepted invitations. But the Soviets cannot come until May 16 because they are marking another the anniversary -- the birth of the Warsaw Pact.

The Austrian "bridge" seemed to be working in June, when Messrs. Carter and Brezhnev signed SALT II there. But the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan changed that.


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