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Minister of Defense Alexandr Vondra´s visit to Washington, DC

Minister of Defense of the Czech Republic Alexandr Vondra arrived in Washington, DC, on January 23 for a visit highlighted by a meeting with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and members of both chambers of the US Congress. Minister Vondra also delivered remarks on the future of the transatlantic partnership at the Atlantic Council. At the Czech embassy, the minister presented the National Defense Cross to the family of General Antonin Hasal.

In the Pentagon, Minister Vondra and Secretary Panetta discussed the plans for transition in Afghanistan, the current budget challenges that each country is facing, the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, the multinational aviation training center in Pardubice and other topics of mutual interest. Secretary Panetta thanked the Czech Republic for its contribution to the operations in Afghanistan. Minister Vondra informed his counterpart that he intends to submit a plan to the parliament to extend the Czech presence in the country until 2014. Both sides confirmed that the language for the Reciprocal Defense Procurement Agreement has been agreed. This will enable Czech businesses to compete for contracts for the US Armed Forces and other agencies. Minister Vondra was accompanied to Washington by a group of representatives of the Czech defense industry who held meetings at the embassy with their US counterparts to discuss new possibilites for cooperation that this agreement will open.

In a special ceremony at the embassy, Minister Vondra presented the National Defense Cross award to the family of General Antonin Hasal for heroism and excellent command role in combat. General Hasal was an extraordinary leader and commander who fought bravely for independence of Czechoslovakia in World War I, against Nazi occupation in World War II and against the totalitarian communist regime in Czechoslovakia after 1948. The award was received by daughters of General Hasal - Dagmar Hasalova White and Milica Hasalova Moravcik