“I officially told my partners at the [EU summit] that President Barack Obama has accepted an invitation to Prague and that heads of the whole EU will meet there too,” said the premier.
Several well-informed sources from the diplomatic circles last week confirmed the news of Obama’s visit to Aktuálně.cz reporters, while officials were still hazy.
“The White House has the last say in these cases. Until we receive an official confirmation from there, we cannot be sure,” said Czech Foreign Ministry’s Veronika Kuchyňová-Šmigolová.
On Sunday, a team of Obama’s staff made a preliminary inspection of Prague Castle and talked to the representatives of the Czech president and government. The next step will be to thoroughly inspect and secure all places to be visited by Obama.
The US president will attend an EU-US summit in Prague on 5 April, on an invitation from Czech President Václav Klaus. He will arrive towards the end of his first trip to Europe, including a G20 summit in London and celebrations of NATO’s 60th anniversary in Strasbourg.
Obama will spend one night in Prague. Travelling with him will likely be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates. It remains unknown whether Obama will be accompanied by his wife Michelle.
The last time the Czech Republic hosted a US president was in June 2007, when George Bush came to Prague for talks about the US plans to deploy missile defence facilities in the Czech Republic and Poland.
The Obama administration is now considering whether it will continue the project. Washington has suggested that the decision will depend on whether Iran will continue with its uranium programme.
During Bush’s 22-hour visit two years ago, Prague deployed 1,500 policemen and several fighter jets. The security of the world’s most powerful man then cost a record CZK 30 million.
That the prestigious meeting will take place in Prague owes largely to the fact that the Czech Republic is currently presiding over the EU.
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