Austria's top diplomat has praised dancing as a diplomatic tool. She was criticized for dancing with Russian President Vladimir Putin at her wedding in August.
Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl on Friday said diplomacy extended beyond "presenting each other with policy notes," as she continued to show bossa nova, samba and the waltz are part of her foreign policy toolbox.
Kneissl told reporters that British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was "an excellent dancer and charming gentleman" during several rounds of bossa nova on the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers' meeting.
The foreign minister said she had an "inspiring" evening on Thursday dancing with her European counterparts.
"Diplomacy is about much more than presenting each other with policy brief notes... A dance doesn't have any political implications, whether I dance with Jeremy or anyone else," she said at a press conference.
"I have danced with so many men before," Kneissl continued at press conference with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
"I would stop here," Mogherini joked.
Kneissl came under fire in August for inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to her wedding and dancing with him. Videos of her doing a curtsy during the waltz led to accusations she had shown too much deference to the authoritarian leader.
Kneissl has defended the dance, saying the curtsy was simply part of the waltz. The 53-year-old later said in an interview that she is "not at all submissive to anybody" and anyone could ask her husband for confirmation.
The Austrian foreign minister does not belong to a political party. However, she was appointed by the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), which has a cooperation agreement with Putin's United Russia party.
FPÖ leader and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has expressed support for lifting Western sanctions on Russian over its activities in Ukraine.
Ties between the FPÖ and Russia have reportedly raised concerns among Western intelligence agencies.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who heads the Austrian People's Party, has backed EU policy against Russia.
Austria currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.
cw/kms (AFP, dpa)