Hoon, Tvrdik discuss cooperation in Iraq and possible air-defence pact
The British Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, visited the Czech Republic earlier this week. During his brief stay Mr Hoon met President Vaclav Klaus, Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda. Secretary Hoon also met his Czech counterpart, Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik, to discuss further Czech involvement in Iraq but also a possible British-Czech air-defence pact.
"We know that the Czech Republic has excellent expertise in this area. Work is already underway amongst coalition forces to identify and locate weapons of mass destruction and certainly, we will welcome the contribution the Czech Republic can make."
Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik made a list of military experts the Czech Republic is able to offer its allies to take part in the upcoming process of stabilisation of Iraq.
"At the moment the Czech Republic has two contingents in the Gulf, an anti-chemical unit and a field hospital. We want to coordinate our involvement in the region with the United Kingdom and with our NATO and EU partners. It is clear that the anti-chemical unit will be withdrawn sooner or later, and only our experts on detection of weapons of mass destruction will be left in the region. Further we are prepared to offer our medical personnel, engineers operating water treatment facilities and also military police and specialists on the renewal of civilian infrastructure."
"As the minister set out, there is a requirement the Czech Republic has, there is a working group identifying the precise way in which this requirement can be fulfilled. We had some very useful discussions and I am confident that the United Kingdom can make a helpful offer, but ultimately, obviously, that is a matter for the Czech Republic to decide on what it needs and when that requirement arises."