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President Zeman receives US Ambassador King

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Prague, April 18 (CTK) – President Milos Zeman and U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Stephen King debated economic cooperation of both countries and the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s birth at their meeting at Prague Castle on Wednesday, Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek has said.

Zeman and King had a friendly conversation and the U.S. ambassador has the door to the president’s office always open, Ovcacek added.

Rudolf Jindrak, head of the Presidential Office’s foreign section, said no controversial issues were touched upon at the meeting, such as the expulsion of Russian diplomats in reaction to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, and the recent extradition of alleged Russian hacker Yevgenyi Nikulin from the Czech Republic to the United States.

“The friendly conversation between the president and the U.S. ambassador, which took place in Zeman’s study at Prague Castle, focused on the economic cooperation of both countries as well as the significant anniversary of 100 years of the establishment of the independent Czechoslovak state, in which exactly the USA assisted,” Ovcacek wrote on Facebook.

Zeman talked to King for almost one hour.

Ovcacek released a photo from the meeting with his own comment. “A sincere alliance and sincere friendship,” he wrote on Facebook.

Jindrak told reporters that this had been the first meeting between Zeman and King since the reception of King’s credential last December.

Zeman told King at the end of the meeting that he had the door to Prague Castle, the presidential seat, open, Jindrak confirmed.

He noted that they agreed with the ambassador during the preparation of the meeting not to open the already closed issues, such as the expulsion of Russian diplomats and Nikulin’s extradition.

King thanked for the Czech involvement in Syria and for Czech diplomacy representing the United States in this country, Jindrak said.

They did not talk about Zeman’s reception by U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House, Jindrak added.

“The Czech foreign policy’s priority in general, not only when it comes to the Presidential Office, is to have the best possible relations with the United States… I dare to say that a meeting on the level of presidents will be held, but I would not dare to say when,” he said.

He added that Zeman and King had discussed quite many issues, including the celebrations of the 100-year anniversary of Czechoslovakia.

“We would like one of the U.S. top representatives to arrive in the Czech Republic on this occasion,” he said. A possible visit by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has been mentioned.

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 recent extradition of Nikulin 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.

King replaced Andrew Schapiro in the post, with whom Zeman had tense relations. They ran into some 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.

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