For Austria, playing a role in the international community became an important element of its foreign policy. Important conferences, such as the debates on diplomatic relations or the peaceful use of outer space, were staged in Vienna.
The Austrian capital also became the seat of the International Atomic Energy Agency and other United Nations organizations, eventually becoming the third “U.N. city” after New York and Geneva. On June 3–4, 1961, the young and still untested U.S. President John F. Kennedy met the blustery Chairman of the Soviet Politburo Nikita Khrushchev for a summit meeting.
Vienna, the capital of neutral Austria, was chosen as the meeting site because of its tradition as a venue of European great power diplomacy. The powers preferred neutral sites such as Vienna, Geneva and Helsinki for East-West high level diplomacy during the Cold War.
The Kennedy-Khrushchev discussions revolved around tough Cold War issues such as the ongoing Berlin crisis, Cuba, the emerging flashpoints in Indochina (Laos and Vietnam), as well as nuclear disarmament. Khrushchev left Vienna with the impression that he had bested the inexperienced Kennedy in their one-on-one parleys. It would take still more time to get a period of Cold War détente started.
PHOTO CREDITS: CLOCKWISE FROM TOP Votava; Photo #E10/165, VGA Collection; #1369128, Courtesy of the Picture Archives of the Austrian National Gallery; Photo #E10/155, VGA Collection; #1358230, Courtesy of the Picture Archives of the Austrian National Gallery.