Beginning of Russian-Czech Talks in Expanded Format 2007-04-27 20:41:43 The Kremlin, Moscow President Vladimir Putin: Mr President, dear friends, First of all, I would like to once again welcome you to Moscow, Mr President, and to welcome too such a high-level group of our friends from the Czech Republic. Our trade and economic relations are showing good growth. Bilateral trade reached a figure of $7.5 billion last year, and we are maintaining the upward trend. This is partly thanks to the work done by the Intergovernmental Commission, which reflects on and takes action to develop new and modern forms of cooperation between our countries. We plan to pay particular attention to developing our humanitarian contacts. It is pleasing to see that we are strengthening the legal basis for our cooperation, and that steps in this area will be taken during your visit. The Czech Republic will hold the presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2009, and we very much hope that your presidency will see an intensification of cooperation between Russia and the European Union. There are a large number of questions and issues on the agenda, and we are very pleased to have this opportunity to exchange views with you on the development of our bilateral relations. Czech President Vaclav Klaus: Mr President, allow me to thank you once again for this invitation to make what is the first official visit by a President of the Czech Republic to the Russian Federation. I would like to continue on from what we had the chance to discuss together during the last hour. We have come here in order to give a new boost to our bilateral relations in all areas. In this respect, we consider your visit to Prague last year a success and we would like to build on it now. You mentioned the rapid and broad-based development of our economic cooperation over these last decades. We think it is important that this development concerns not just trade, but also reciprocal investment, which can help to lay the foundation for more long-term and stronger relations. I hope that during this visit we will sign a whole number of agreements in this area.