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Austria climbs down over peaks sale

Austria has been forced to drop the sale of two alpine summits after an outpouring of national outrage.

The decision came after an emergency meeting between economics minister Reinhold Mitterlehner and top officials in charge of selling national property to the private sector.

"We have suspended the sale to evaluate alternative possibilities," a spokesman said.

He said the deal would probably still go ahead but buyers would be restricted to "Austrian institutions" instead of the highest free-market bidders.

The peaks are in the easternmost part of Tyrol province, home to some of Europe's highest mountain ranges.

The "Rosskopf" is over 8,500 feet high, the "Grosse Kinigat" nearly 8,800 feet. They were on offer for 121,000 euros (£107,000).

Austria is fiercely proud of its alpine ranges - its national hymn begins with the worlds "Land of Mountains" - and news that the two summits were up for sale next month spread quickly.

Local and opposition politicians had also spoken out against the deal, and the government was bombarded with calls and emails with contents ranging from "indignation to abuse."

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