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IN SHORT

Fico: No open political issues between Austria and Slovakia

PRIME MINISTER Robert Fico and Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer met for talks in Vienna on May 8 that centered around opportunities for further economic co-operation between the neighbours.

Fico said Austria is one of Slovakia's most important trade partners, with more than 1,700 companies in Slovakia supported either entirely or at least partly by Austrian capital.

Fico and Gusenbauer agreed that Slovakia will support Austria's efforts to become a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

Also discussed at the meeting were Slovak-Austrian transport projects, including the new Vienna-Bratislava motorway, which is due to be completed by November 19.

As for the cancelled plans to privatize Bratislava Airport, Fico stressed that his government would never sell it. Negotiations with the Austria are in progress, however, with one of the options for co-operation being a joint venture.

During his official visit, Fico also met with Austrian Parliamentary Chair Barbara Prammer to discuss current political issues: Kosovo, the European Constitution and the American plan to construct anti-ballistic missile systems in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Fico said there was "a slight difference" between the Slovak and Austrian stances on Kosovo, as Slovakia is putting more stress on respecting Serbia's wishes.

As for the planned anti-missile bases, Fico said that as a sign of respect for Austria's independent position, he wouldn't comment on that part of the talks.

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