Waldheim steps down

VIENNA (Reuter) - Kurt Waldheim formally stepped down as President of Austria yesterday. His successor, Thomas Klestil, elected at the end of May, was sworn in at a meeting of both houses of Austria's parliament, at which Mr Waldheim had the seat of honour.

Mr Waldheim, 73, a former UN secretary-general, was elected president in 1986, but was ostracised by many world leaders after revelations that he had covered up his past as a German army officer during the Second World War.

Mr Klestil, 59, was Austria's ambassador to Washington in 1986 when the US placed Mr Waldheim on its 'Watch List' of undesirable aliens. Now, President Klestil is to re-forge diplomatic links with countries which shunned his predecessor.