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Xi, Czech leader nurture national ties

By An Baijie in Prague and Wang Qingyun in Beijing | China Daily USA | Updated: 2016-03-29 10:52

The Lany Chateau, built four centuries ago in west Prague, has welcomed a special guest - President Xi Jinping - who is on a historic visit that started Monday.

On invitation from Czech President Milos Zeman, Xi is the first Chinese president to pay a state visit to the Czech Republic since the establishment of diplomatic ties 67 years ago.

He also is the first head of state invited to the Lany Chateau, the summer residence of Czech presidents.

The word "lany" in Czech means "fields" or "tracts".

Soon after his arrival in the afternoon, Xi and his Czech counterpart had private talks in the chateau. Both were wearing jackets rather than formal suits during the meeting.

The two presidents also planted a gingko tree together in the chateau's yard on a rainy day.

"The tree of friendship should be jointly irrigated by China and the Czech Republic," Xi said.

The Czech president treated his Chinese guest with Lobkowicz beer for the first dinner of the visit.

The beer was first brewed in the 1840s, when the citizens, brewers and maltsters of Plzen formed a brewer's guild and called it the People's Brewery of Pilsen.

The baroque chateau in the village of Lany amid the Krivoklat woods, is in the Central Bohemia region, about 35 kilometers from Prague. The village has about 1,600 people. The first president of Czechoslovakia, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, became fond of the chateau, and in 1935, he was permitted to move to Lany with his family permanently.

In the end, he chose Lany as the final resting place for himself and his family.

Ren Yuanzhe, an associate professor of diplomatic research with China Foreign Affairs University, said that only when the relationship between two countries is close, will private dinners be arranged during a state visit.

"It (private dinner) is a kind of respect to the other country, and such arrangement also has to reflect the willingness of making more progress in bilateral ties," he said.

Private meetings could yield "unexpected results" because personal talks could be more candid, and face-to-face interaction is good for solving problems in bilateral ties, he said.

On Tuesday, the Chinese leader will be welcomed at Prague Castle with military honors. After further talks with Zeman, he will meet other senior Czech officials, including Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

A number of bilateral memoranda and trade deals are due to be signed during Xi's stay.

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Xi, Czech leader nurture national ties

President Xi Jinping (left) and Czech President Milos Zeman wave from the balcony of the Lany Chateau near Prague on Monday. Xinhua

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