BONN, Germany (AP) _ Leaders of Germany and the Czech Republic have pledged to open a new era of relations unburdened by World War II.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Monday his government, in power since October, would not be influenced by the vocal lobby of Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after the war _ a group that had been courted by his predecessor, Helmut Kohl.

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman also said his country's government would no longer dwell on the past, marked by enmity over the Nazi occupation of what was then Czechoslovakia.

``We consider these questions closed,'' Schroeder declared after meeting Zeman on Monday. ``Both government agree they will not make any claims.''

Schroeder reassured Zeman that Germany supports the former Soviet bloc country's entry into the European Union ``without conditions,'' though he did not give a timetable.

Representatives of Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after the war pressured Bonn last summer to link support for Prague's entry into the EU to a settlement of their claims for lost property.

Some 2.5 million Germans from the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia were expelled after the war with Allied blessing. Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.

German and Czech leaders signed a declaration in 1997 aimed at reconciling the two neighbors. The following year, they established a fund to compensate Czech victims of the Nazis and Germans who lost their property.

Schroeder said he and Zeman agreed that ``the events during World War II and their consequences are part of a closed historic epoch and are irreversible.''

``We agree that we won't burden our relations with political and legal questions from the past,'' Schroeder said.