Klaus praises Chinese progress, hopes for more

The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, has said he hopes the progress made by China in many spheres over the last 25 years will continue in other areas such as democracy. During talks with the country's prime minister, Wen Jiabao, in Prague on Friday, Mr Klaus also highlighted problems experienced by some Czech companies doing business in China.

As the two men met the courtyard at Prague Castle was filled with supporters of China's Communist government waving red flags, while a group of members of the Falun Gong movement protested against Mr Wen's visit.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Czech Senate, Premysl Sobotka, said a trade agreement signed on Wednesday by Mr Wen and his Czech counterpart, Jiri Paroubek, was more advantageous to China and should be amended.

Christian, Muslim, Jewish representatives condemn euthanasia, call for changes to new criminal code

Representatives of the Czech Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths have issued a joint statement condemning euthanasia and calling for changes to a new criminal code recently approved by the lower house. The new law does not set a minimum sentence for assisting in so-called mercy killings, which critics say opens the way to euthanasia.

The religious leaders - issuing a joint statement for the first time - said the practice went against the Hippocratic Oath, and called for greater funding for hospices and carers.

Czech Roman Catholic missionary taken hostage in Haiti

A Czech missionary, Roman Musil, has been taken hostage in Haiti. His kidnappers are demanding that the Czech Roman Catholic agency he works for pay a ransom of 50,000 US dollars for his release. Mr Musil, who is 34, has been living in Haiti for several years.

Growth of Czech economy slows but trend still healthy

The Czech economy grew by 4.9 percent in the third quarter of this year, a slowdown from 5.2 percent in the second quarter, according to figures released on Friday. That deceleration was due to a decline in agriculture, while foreign trade has remained the driving force of growth.

In spite of the slowdown, the Czech economy has remained the second-fastest growing in central Europe, after Slovakia, and this year's growth in gross domestic product is set to be the fastest since 1995.

Deal on site for Hyundia car plant must be struck by end of month, says Urban

The minister of industry and trade, Milan Urban, says a deal on securing a site for carmaker Hyundia in Moravia must be struck very soon. Speaking after talks with a Hyundia representative on Friday, Mr Urban said December 31st was the deadline for finding a site. Three places are in consideration for the car plant, which would provide a major boost for the economy in the region.

German companies apply for permission to burn waste in Prague suburb

Two German companies have applied for permission to burn 80,000 tonnes of waste in the Prague district of Malesice, Lidove noviny reported on Friday. A Czech Environment Ministry spokesperson said it was currently unclear whether permission would be given.

There is a shortage of incinerator capacity in Germany, while incinerators in the Czech Republic are working at 55 percent of capacity, the daily said.

Thieves make off with complete ATM machine

A complete bank ATM machine was stolen from a branch of Komercni banka in Desna, south Moravia on Wednesday night. The thieves used welding equipment to remove the ATM in what was the third such robbery in the Czech Republic.

Cats, dogs killed for fur in Czech Republic, says wife of former Beatle

The wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney, Heather Mills McCartney, says cats in the Czech Republic are being snared on the streets for their fur and then skinned alive, the Czech Press Agency reported. Speaking at an anti-fur demonstration in Brussels, Ms Mills McCartney said dogs were also being killed for their skins in the Czech Republic. Cat and dog fur was being used to make little figures of pets as well as scarves, stoles and blankets, she said.

Skoda pulls out of world motor rally competition

The Czech auto maker Skoda has withdrawn its team from the World Rally Championships. However, Skoda will provide vehicles for the Czech team of Jan Kopecky and Austria's Red Bull Skoda team for the 2006 championships. Skoda, owned by Volkswagen, scaled back its operations during the 2005 season and finished sixth in this year's competition.

Czech band Chinaski play to 11,000 in capital

Czech rock band Chinaski appeared before 11,000 fans at a sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Prague on Thursday night. Chinaski, who are currently the biggest concert draw in Czech music, are in the middle of an 18-date tour of the country in support of their album Music Bar.


Temperatures should rise to five or six degrees Celsius over the next few days. It will remain mostly cloudy with some snow in places.