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Christopher Thinks RFE/RL Broadcasting Still Very Important

PRAGUE, March 21 (CTK) - U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher believes Radio Free Europe's broadcasting is still very important for the development of democracy and the free market in Central and Eastern Europe, he said on a visit to the radio's headquarters in Prague today.

Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec, who accompanied Christopher at his meeting with the radio's employees, stressed the significance Radio Free Europe had had for Czechoslovakia in the past. He said the Czechs felt they had a debt towards the Western democracies which they wanted to repay by having the radio station in Prague.

Radio Free Europe moved here from Munich in 1995, and is housed in the former Federal Parliament building. The move meant that the station, whose existence was threatened by U.S. budget cuts, has cut its annual costs from 220 to 75 million dollars.

Christopher, at the end of his three-day visit to Prague, during which he met 12 foreign ministers from the region, thanked Zieleniec for organising the meeting, saying the meetings were becoming a very valuable tradition. He added that he and Zieleniec had become good friends and colleagues.