News of Radio Prague

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Czech troops not needed for Afghan peace mission

Czech troops will not be taking part in the international peace mission in Afghanistan, though plans to send an anti chemical defense unit to Kuwait remain on line. According to Mlada Fronta Dnes `the Czech Defense Ministry was informed about this latest development late on Tuesday. The news was confirmed by the deputy defense minister Stefan Fulle, who told the daily " We are disappointed with the change of plan but we must respect Kabul's wishes." Kabul has allegedly asked for the original plans for a 5,000 strong peace keeping force to be reduced to 3,000 men. In December the Czech Parliament paved the way for the deployment of up to 400 Czech soldiers in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

Explosives traced to former Czechoslovak national

Richard Reid, the terrorist who planned to blow up an airliner bound from Paris to Miami late last year is alleged to have acquired the explosives from a former Czechoslovak national in Amsterdam. The allegation appeared on CNN TV news, citing a US government source. There has been no comment as yet from the Czech authorities.

Czech government and Central Bank to take action against strong crown

The Czech government and the Central Bank have agreed to take joint measures against the strong crown. The governor of the Central Bank Zdenek Tuma said following a meeting with the Prime Minister Milos Zeman on Tuesday that the government would debate various forms of intervention at its next session. Economists outline three possible courses of action: the Central Bank could buy up a certain amount of hard currency from the privatization process in exchange for Czech crowns, or the government could retain part of the privatization income for future hard currency expenditures, or foreign investors could deposit part of their payments in Czech crowns.

Trade and industry minister offers resignation

The Czech Trade and Industry Minister Miroslav Gregr on Tuesday formally offered his resignation to the Prime Minister. He told reporters he was honoring a public promise made 18 months ago over the Temelin nuclear power plant. Minister Gregr said then that he would offer his resignation if the plant's launch was delayed or if it went over budget. The Prime Minister Milos Zeman has refused to accept the resignation, saying that since Miroslav Gregr's predecessors were jointly responsible for a 7 year delay and he saw no reason why his Cabinet minister should pay for having delayed Temelin's launch by a single month.

Czech Cabinet rejects RFE claim about planned move

The Czech government spokesman Libor Roucek has rejected the claim that plans to move RFE/RL to a safer location away from the city centre are a concession to international terrorism. RFE's president Tomas Dine made the claim in an interview for the latest edition of the Prague Post, adding further that the whole affair had become highly politicized. In response to the remarks the government spokesman told the CTK press agency that the Cabinet was looking into possible new locations for the station at the recommendation of the National Security Council.

Havel leaves for health holiday

President Havel, who is recovering from pneumonia has left for the Canary Islands on Tuesday for two weeks of intensive rehabilitation. He is accompanied by the first lady Dagmar Havel, two doctors, a therapist and nurse. The president's office said Mr. Havel would devote himself to intensive rehabilitation and breathing exercises. He will remain in daily contact with his office. President Havel, who is serving his final year in office has a long history of health problems tied to his former smoking habit and years spent in communist prisons.

Methane explosion investigation points to human error

The methane explosion at a coal mine near Kladno which killed four miners in November of last year is believed to have been caused by one of the miners smoking in the shaft. The committee investigating the accident which was formerly believed to have been caused by a faulty electricity circuit said no evidence had been found to confirm the theory. Instead two lighters found close to the site of the tragedy indicate that someone had violated the strict ban on smoking below ground.

Doctor cleared of responsibility for football player's death

A court in Nachod has cleared Ladislav Cejnar, a physician who works at the intensive care unit of a local hospital , of charges of negligence resulting in death. Cejnar was accused of being directly responsible for the death of a seventeen year football player who collapsed from an over-doze of painkillers following knee-surgery. The court said there was no direct evidence on the grounds of which Cejnar could be held responsible for the death. The state attorney on the case has appealed the verdict.

And finally a look at the weather forecast for the coming hours:

The night will bring overcast skies with drizzle and snow showers in places with nighttime lows dropping to minus six degs C. Wednedsay is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with morning fog and temps ranging between minus two and plus two degs C.