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Zeman invites Guterres, announces visit to Russia

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Beijing, May 14 (CTK) – President Milos Zeman agreed with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Guterres will visit Czech Republic and told journalists after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday that he would visit Russia, specifically Moscow, Yekaterinburg and Tatarstan.

Putin said he understood his meeting Zeman as part of the preparations for Zeman’s November visit to Russia.

The Russian news agency TASS said Putin had also thanked Zeman for the level of Russian-Czech relations achieved in the past years.

Putin and Zeman met during the Beijing conference on the new, modern Silk Road connecting China with most of Asia, Europe and Africa.

“We know your view of the Russian-Czech relations,” Putin told Zeman at the beginning of the meeting, TASS wrote.

“Largely thanks to you, our relations have been still maintained on a high level and are developing despite the complexities in the past years,” Putin said.

Putin said the visit was already being prepared.

“The culture and foreign ministries are preparing an exhibition (on the Prague Castle, the seat of Czech heads of state). I believe that the Russian experts in arts and Russian public will be happy,” TASS quoted Putin as saying.

Turning to economic relations, Putin said that “irrespective of the fall in the previous years, the trade volume rose by 44 percent by the beginning of this year”.

“This is a good sign and a good trend that should be maintained,” Putin added.

Zeman said the growth in the trade volume was due to an influx of Russian tourists to the Czech Republic.

“This is connected with the gradual increase in citizens’ incomes that were unfortunately lowered due to a crisis, but the real incomes of Russians then started to rise. With this, tourist attractiveness started to rise, too,” Zeman said.

Zeman has repeatedly spoken against the international sanctions imposed against Russia over its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

He argues that sanctions have never worked, citing as an example the U.S. sanctions against Cuba.

Zeman has a positive relationship with Russia. He has often visited Russian representatives. He met them at the celebrations of Victory in Moscow in 2015.

He also saw Putin during his previous visit to China in 2015.

In October 2014, he had talks with Lavrov in Milan. He also spoke with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

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