VIENNA - Austrian President Heinz Fischer said he hoped to build bridges with Iran but would not skirt human rights issues as he set off for Tehran on Monday, the first Western head of state to visit the Islamic Republic in more than a decade.
His visit follows the signing in July of a landmark accord between Iran and world powers on its disputed nuclear program. Austria hosted the marathon talks.
"Austria is a land of dialogue. We reject violence. We want to build bridges and want to seize every opportunity to reduce tensions and promote a climate that promises a better future than if we remain stuck in confrontation," said Fischer, whose role in Austria is largely ceremonial.