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EU's Tusk urges Czech President Zeman to cooperate in Europe

Czech President Milos Zeman reacts as he defeated pro-EU academic Jiri Drahos in the presidential election in Prague, Czech Republic, January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

(reuters_tickers)

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The chair of EU national leaders, Donald Tusk, urged Czech President Milos Zeman on Monday to pursue cooperation with the European Union following his re-election after a campaign critical of the bloc.

In a message of congratulations, European Council President Tusk wrote: "I trust that your country will continue to play an active and constructive role within the European Union."

The former Polish prime minister, who has tried to calm mounting frictions between wealthier governments in the west and former-communist EU members in the east, highlighted his own efforts to get the Union to "better respond to European citizens’ concerns" -- a nod to popular worries over issues such as immigration, on which Zeman based some of his campaigning.

Asked whether the European Commission was troubled by Zeman's re-election, a spokesman for the EU executive said it respected the vote: "We are not worried," he told reporters.

Later on Monday, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was to host Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who has support from Zeman as he struggles to form a government following a parliamentary election in October.

(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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