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Zeman to meet US Ambassador King on Wednesday

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Prague, April 17 (CTK) – President Milos Zeman will meet U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Stephen King at Prague Castle on Wednesday to debate bilateral relations and current developments in the world, Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek confirmed to CTK on Tuesday.

Zeman received the credentials from King, who replaced Andrew Schapiro in the post, last December.

Zeman had tense relations with Schapiro and they ran into a few disputes.

In 2015, Schapiro expressed reservations about Zeman’s plan to attend the Victory celebration in Moscow in spite of most European leaders’ decision to shun the event due to the previous annexation of Crimea by Russia.

Zeman then said the door to Prague Castle, the president’s seat, was closed to Schapiro. Nevertheless, Schapiro continued to appear at Prague Castle on various official occasions.

Zeman also said he considered it hypocritical of Schapiro along with other ambassadors to promote anti-corruption fight in the Czech Republic.

Besides, Zeman criticised Schapiro from allegedly not having attended the celebrations of the national holiday on October 28, marking the foundation of Czechoslovakia. However, Schapiro did attend the event at Prague Castle actually.

Moreover, Zeman recently criticised the United States and other allies for their intervention in Syria.

On the contrary, Zeman praised U.S. President Donald Trump in the past. After Trump’s election as American president, they had a phone conversation. Zeman’s office announced then that both presidents would meet in the White House in April 2017. However, the meeting has not taken place yet and Zeman has been waiting in vain for being received by Trump.

Zeman’s negative stance on the the recent extradition of alleged Russian hacker Yevgenyi Nikulin from the Czech Republic to the United States also caused tension between his office and American diplomacy. While Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) decided to send Nikulin to the U.S., Zeman supported Russia seeking his extradition as well.

The meeting between Zeman and King has long been planned, Ovcacek said. “It will focus not only on the current affairs in the world, but also on allied Czech-American relations,” he told CTK.

Another debated issue might be the planned purchase of military helicopters for several billion crowns as the Bell U.S. company is one of the bidders in the tender.

On Wednesday afternoon, Zeman will meet representatives of the CITIC Group Chinese firm that is to take over a stake in the CEFC Europe group, Ovcacek said.

The delegation includes CITIC Group board chairman Chang Zhenming and other heads of the most significant firms in the holding, which controls more than 5000 firms.

One of Zeman’s advisers is CEFC board chairman Ye Jianming who has been investigated in China reportedly on suspicion of a financial crime.

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