The Czech Republic, holder of the European Union's rotating presidency, is upbeat about Sino-European ties despite Beijing's decision to pull out of an annual bilateral summit last year over then EU president Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama. The Czech ambassador to China, Vitezslav Grepl, said yesterday that his country, which took over the presidency at the start of the year from France, would set 'building mutual trust and deepening co-operation with China' as one of its main diplomatic goals. 'Together with our Chinese partners, we have taken promising progressive steps since the beginning of the Czech presidency,' Dr Grepl said.But he was reluctant to comment on whether the Czech president would meet the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. 'For many Europeans, the Dalai Lama is a very respected and significant religious leader ... This is not an issue we would perceive politically,' Dr Grepl said. '[But] we understand this is an extremely sensitive matter.' He did not expect the Dalai Lama to visit the Czech Republic again soon after a visit late last year. The ambassador of the European Commission to China, Serge Abou, said that apart from the summit cancellation, Sino-EU relations were 'very good' last year, although he admitted that 'it's not very healthy that one important [EU] member state has problems with China'. The ambassadors did not address whether the summit would be resumed, but Swedish ambassador Mikael Lindstrom confirmed that discussions were taking place. This year's summit is due to be held in Sweden, which takes over the EU presidency in the second half of the year.