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Slovakian Leader Renews Call For Ending EU Sanctions On Russia

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico renewed his call for an end to sanctions on Russia after meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico renewed his call for the European Union to end sanctions against Russia after a meeting this week with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Slovakia holds the rotating EU presidency and will host a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers next week. He is one of several central European leaders opposed to continuing sanctions on Russia.

The EU imposed energy, financial, and defense sanctions on Moscow after it annexed Ukraine's Crimea in March 2014. The sanctions have been extended repeatedly and are due to expire at the end of January.

"Personally, I think it is time to view the sanctions rationally and to say that they harm both the EU and Russia," Fico said on Facebook on August 26. "We agreed with Vladimir Putin that our common pursuit is to revive our mutual trade again."

Slovakia imports almost all its gas and oil from Russia, as well as nuclear fuel to generate two power plants. It exports cars to Russia.

Hungary has taken a similar line as Fico, who was re-elected for a third time in March. Czech President Milos Zeman also has also repeatedly called for ending sanctions.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa