News Monday, MARCH 09th, 1998

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Radio Prague E news Date: March 9, 1998 Written / read by: Alena Skodova

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm AS. First the headlines:

Those were the main points and now the news in more detail:

Ukrainian Foreign minister in Prague

Ukrainian Foreign minister Gennadi Udovenko has arrived in Prague for talks with Czech officials on Czech-Ukrainian relations and the structure of European security. Mr. Udovenko will have talks in Prague with his Czech counterpart Jaroslav Sedivy, Speaker of the House of Deputies Milos Zeman and premier Josef Tosovsky, and he will also be received by president Vaclav Havel. After gaining independence, Ukraine has become an active member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, and unlike the Kremlin it does not reject NATO's expansion to the East. What that country does reject, however, is the idea of nuclear weapons being deployed nearer to its borders. According to the Czech Foreign ministry, Udovensko's visit is understood as an expression of the Czech republic's interest in "active political dialogue" with Ukraine, following a visit there by Speaker of the House of Deputies Milos Zeman and president Vaclav Havel last year.

IPB - Nomura

A contract on the sale of a 36 percent state share in the Investment and Post Bank - IPB - to the Japanese bank Nomura has been signed in Prague by General manager of the Nomura Europe Plc. Randall Dillard and Chrairman of the State property fund Roman Ceska. Nomura will pay for this share 3,031 billion crowns and according to the contract, it pledged to boost the IPB's assets by 6 billion crowns. Finance minister Ivan Pilip has said that the contract will doubtessly strengthen the IPB's stability and credibility and described this move as a signal showing that the Czech cabinets takes its plan to privatize big banks seriously.

Czech soldiers - maneuvres

35 Czech professional soldiers have left from the military airport in Pardubice for Spain to take part in military maneuvres code-named Strong Resolve 98. The maneuvres will be held in Norway, Spain and Portugal and the adjacent water and air space, and will be attended by 50 thousand soldiers from 15 NATO countries and 10 countries involved in the Partnership for Peace programme. The Czech soldiers, including officers who will work for the allied forces' commands, will be part of the Spanish batallion. The maneuvres will end on March 21st.

Afghan refugees

Czech border police have discovered a group of 19 men, 8 women and 9 children in a hay-loft in the Cheb region near the Czech-German border. The police could not interview them due to a language barrier. The people are most probably Afghan refugees, taken near the border by several cars, whose drivers confiscated their passports and left with the promise they would come back with new ones. They also reassured the refugees that they were in Great Britain, where they were heading for.

Havel in Poland

This week's trip to Poland by president Vaclav Havel is his first foreign visit after being elected for a second five-year term of office. Havel met Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski for the first time two years ago at a working meeting in Nachod. Kwasniewski then said that for Poland, the Czech republic is a natural and strategic partner . Both statesmen also met for bilateral talks within the framework of a meeting of Central European presidents in Lancut in Poland in 1996, in the Slovenian town of Portoroz last year and in the Slovakia spa town of Levoca in January 1998. The Czech republic and Poland have many common themes to be discussed, such as the continuation of economic reforms and the transformation process, as well as their joint admission to NATO. Mutual trade turn-over last year reached 2 billion dollars.

And finally a quick look at the weather:

it will be cloudy in the Czech republic today, with snow showers in the mountains and daily highs between 1 and 4 degrees Celsius. And that's the end of the news.