published: 25.01.2014, 17:23 | updated: 25.01.2014 17:25:08
Kabul/Prague - Czech President Milos Zeman today met his Afghan opposite number Hamid Karzai during his visit to Afghanistan he started on Friday, Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told CTK.
Zeman also met the Czech troops who are in the Central Asian country within the ISAF mission.
The journalists were only informed about the visit by Zeman's spokesman after its end.
Before, the Presidential Office kept the visit to Afghanistan secret, which is common due to security reasons.
On Friday, Zeman met Czech soldiers from the ISAF mission and decorated their unit with a ribbon of the president.
He also passed packets with Czech food and DVD films to the soldiers.
Zeman was accompanied by outgoing Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek and chief of staff Petr Pavel.
He also gave some gifts to the Czech soldiers working at the Bagram military base near Kabul.
"I realise that Czech soldiers are a sort of advanced patrol," Zeman said, pointing to the struggle against international terrorism.
He said Czech soldiers were preventing its infiltration.
Zeman supported foreign military missions.
"Prevention is always cheaper than subsequent defence. Foreign missions are to prevent the outbreak of a big fire," Zeman said.
Earlier today, Zeman visited the military chapel at the Kabul base where he passed a candle from the nuns of the Carmelite order to the staff.
In the hospital, he was informed about the work of Czech doctors, rescuers and nurses.
At the close of the meeting of Zeman and Karzai, a memorandum was signed under which the first exhibition of Buddhist artefacts uncovered by Czech archaeologists in Afghanistan will be staged in the National Museum in Prague.
Zeman is the first Czech and Czechoslovak head of state to have paid a visit to Afghanistan.
Before him, Afghanistan was repeatedly visited by prime ministers Mirek Topolanek and Petr Necas and former defence minister Alexander Vondra.
The former Czechoslovakia was visited twice by an Afghan head of state. In 1970 King Muhammad Zahir arrived and in 1981 Afghan Communist leader Babrak Karmal who met former Czechoslovak President Gustav Husak.
Czech soldiers have been serving in Afghanistan within the ISAF mission since 2002 and their mandate is approved until the end of 2014.
The number of the deployed troops has gradually decreased. Now there are some 270 of them in Afghanistan.
So far, almost 5,000 Czech troops have rotated in Afghanistan. Five of them have died due to the war.
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