Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) is set to meet the president of the United States, Donald Trump, in February.
It appears a date has already been set, though none has been officially announced. Kurz is expected to visit Asia from February 13th to February 17th and, from there, could travel onward to the United States.
Restoring the balance
Rumor amongst EU insiders had it that the reception had been organized due to Austria’s quick recognition of US-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela. Sebastian Kurz announced Sunday on Twitter that Austria recognizes Guaido as the legitimate interim president as per the Venezuelan constitution.
However, according to government sources, the US are aiming to restore an equilibrium between themselves and Russia. Chancellor Kurz has met with Russian president Vladimir Putin several times; on one occasion, Austria has even offered to host a summit between Russia and the United States. Inviting Kurz to meet Trump is therefore meant to level the playing field.
It’s been a while
Kurz will be the first Austrian chancellor to pay an official visit to the United States in 14 years. The last official visit of an Austrian head of government to the USA happened in 2005, when Wolfgang Schüssel (ÖVP) met George W. Bush. Barack Obama’s government never invited an Austrian chancellor to visit the United States.