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US House of Representatives speaker to visit Prague in late March

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Prague, Feb 2 (CTK) – Paul Ryan, speaker of the U.S. Congress’s House of Representatives, will visit the Czech Republic in late March, Czech Chamber of Deputies’ chairman Radek Vondracek (ANO) said on Friday, adding that Ryan’s Czech programme is yet to be prepared.

Vondracek said Ryan is expected to stay in the Czech Republic on March 26-27, and he might spend some more time there on a private visit, Vondracek said.

“He is the third highest representative of the USA, which is why it is not that easy and the preparations have only started now,” Vondracek told CTK.

Vondracek spoke about Ryan’s possible visit at a meeting with U.S. ambassador Stephen King in the Chamber of Deputies in early January.

Vondracek then said Ryan might attend some of this year’s events marking the centenary of the birth of Czechoslovakia.

King has confirmed Ryan’s visit to Vondracek by phone now, the latter tweeted.

Vondracek and King previously discussed Ryan’s attendance of Czechoslovakia’s establishment anniversary celebrations in connection with former U.S. president Woodrow Wilson’s contribution to the birth of the joint state of Czechs and Slovaks in 1918.

They agreed that the centenary is a good opportunity to highlight the historical tie between former Czechoslovakia and the USA.

The U.S. embassy said it wants to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations throughout the year, each month focusing on a different branch of Czech-U.S. cooperation.

At his first meeting with journalist early last December, King said a high-ranking member of the U.S. Administration might come to Prague on the occasion of Czechoslovakia’s birth centenary.

The last U.S. constitutional official to have visited the Czech Republic so far was then President Barack Obama, who attended the U.S.-Russia summit in Prague in 2010 and had a bilateral meeting with then Czech President Vaclav Klaus.

Observers refer to King as a former political patron of Ryan. Both Republicans, they know each other from Janesville, Wisconsin, the home town of both, and they supported each other in election campaigns in the past.

Ryan has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2009 and the house’s speaker since 2015.

Another issue the media have focused on in connection with Czech-U.S. relations is Czech President Milos Zeman’s heralded visit to the USA. In December 2016, the Czech Presidential Office said Zeman was invited to the White House by then U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

April 2017 was mentioned as the planned visit’s date, but some diplomats said the invitation of Zeman might not have been an official step on the part of Trump.

The new Czech ambassador to Washington, Hynek Kmonicek, said last April that the visit had been adjourned due to the U.S. tackling of the North Korean crisis.

In June, Zeman said he received a letter from Trump in which he apologised for having postponed their White House meeting previously promised to him.

Zeman’s visit to the White House has not taken place so far.

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