Under Kreisky's leadership, Austria sought to play an active role in international politics in the 1970s, particularly through the UN. Reflecting the acceptance of Austrian neutrality, Waldheim, the unsuccessful conservative presidential candidate in 1970, was elected UN secretary general in 1971 and reelected to that post in 1976. Austria continued to cast itself as a bridge between East and West, and Vienna was the site for some early rounds of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between the United States and the Soviet Union. Kreisky became personally involved in issues relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Despite general support for maintenance of Israeli security, he criticized Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. In 1980 Austria gave de facto recognition to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) by accepting an accredited agent of the PLO in Vienna. Throughout the 1970s, however, Austria was also a transit point for Jews leaving the Soviet Union for destinations in Israel and the West.
Austria established a more favorable trading relationship with the EEC in 1972, but the EEC continued to move toward still fuller economic and political integration in Western Europe. Although Kreisky pointed to the possibility of Austria's adopting legislation on its own in coordination with these developments, he stressed that Austria's neutrality would continue to prevent full membership in the EEC unless it were expanded to include all of Europe.
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