EU to hold Czech-chaired summit with South Korea next month

EU to hold Czech-chaired summit with South Korea next monthPrague - The European Union is to hold a summit with South Korea in Seoul on May 23, officials said Tuesday. The meeting will be chaired by Czech President Vaclav Klaus, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the
27-member bloc.

Acting Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and his visiting South Korean counterpart Han Seung-Soo told reporters the summit would tackle economic issues.

Topolanek, whose outgoing government is likely to step down on May 9, said he hoped the EU and South Korea would seal a free-trade deal under the Czech Republic's EU presidency ending June 30.

The outgoing premier appeared to show annoyance that Klaus, an outspoken EU critic and Topolanek's domestic political rival, would head the EU delegation.

He said he would have preferred his successor, designated Prime Minister Jan Fischer, to chair the meeting. "Only the abnormal situation in the Czech Republic meant it would be the president," Topolanek said.

Klaus has shown willingness to extend his role in the EU presidency after Topolanek's government collapsed following defeat in a parliamentary confidence motion on March 24.

Under an earlier deal with the Topolanek cabinet, the president is also to head an EU top-level meeting with Russia.

The leaders have yet to confirm who will presides over the EU's regular June summit in Brussels, which should have been chaired by Topolanek. (dpa)