News of Radio Prague

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Russia will settle debt to Czech Republic by 2020

The Czech Republic and Russia have agreed on the settlement of Russia's debt from the Soviet Union era. The Czech Republic will forgive Russia part of the 3.6 billion dollar debt and allow it to spread out re-payment of the rest over the next 20 years. According to the agreement signed, the Czech Republic will sell a 2.5 billion dollar portion of the debt to a private company, Falcon Capital, for slightly over 20 billion Czech crowns to be paid by the end of this year. The remaining part of the debt will be paid between now and 2020 in cash, goods and into a guarantee fund for Czech exports to Russia. The Czech Cabinet has already included the 20 billion crowns it is to receive from Falcon Capital in next year's state budget.

Russian Prime Minister in Prague

The visiting Russian Prime Minister, Michail Kassyanov has been meeting with Czech top officials in Prague. The war against terrorism topped the agenda of his talks with Prime Minister Milos Zeman who expressed appreciation of Russia's active role in this international endeavor. He pointed out that Bin Laden's terrorist organization Al Quaeda has bases outside of Afghanistan and that a broad anti-terrorist front would be vitally necessary in order to enable the alliance to eliminate them in other parts of the world. The Czech prime minister said that given the present developments, it would not be wise to cold-shoulder Russia's interest in NATO membership or close ties with the organization. During talks with Czech Senators the Russian Prime Minister likened the air strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan to Russia's military activities in Chechnya. This parallel was strongly rejected by Czech representatives.

Afghan charge d'affaire -statement

The Afghan charge d'affaires in the Czech Republic, a representative of the anti- Taliban Northern alliance, has said he supports the air-strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan. Abdazzahir Saldzuki told reporters there was no other solution to Afghanistan's terrorist problem. "The people will simply have to survive this terrible ordeal in order for this evil to be rooted out once and for all" the Afghan charge d'affaires said. He said much depended on Pakistan's stand. "Pakistan has helped the Taliban no matter that its representatives claim otherwise. It should sever all political links with the Taliban " Mr. Saldzuki said.

NGO to open aid centers in Afghanistan and Tajikistan

The non-governmental organization People in Need has said it is planning to open humanitarian aid centres in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The head of People in Need, Tomas Pojar, said that the centers would focus on providing medical aid and handing out basic necessities to Afghan refugees. A three-member humanitarian team is to leave for Afghanistan in the near future and expects to remain there for at least 6 months. A medical team will follow as soon as the centres have been set up.

Former communist official to go to court

Former communist interior minister Lubomir Strougal is to stand trial for covering up three brutal murders committed by the communist secret service in 1965. Asked to decide whether President Havel's general amnesty in 1990 pertained to this case, Justice Minister Jaroslav Bures said that Lubomir Strougal would stand trial. In 1965, the former communist interior minister halted criminal proceedings against members of the dreaded communist secret service, who tortured three men arrested for anti-communist activities and then ordered for them to be murdered so that the world would not lean of the methods employed by the secret service.

Weather

Wednesday should bring partly cloudy skies and temperatures between 15 and 19 degs C. We can expect some drizzle in the late afternoon hours. Thursday should be overcast and rainy in many parts of the Czech Republic. Day temps between 13 and 17 degs C.