News of Radio Prague

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Two Czech members of Enduring Freedom command leave for Kuwait

Two members of the leadership of the Czech contingent which is due to take part in the United States-led anti-terrorism operation entitled Enduring Freedom left for Kuwait on Friday morning from a U.S. military base in the German town of Ramstein. Both Czech army officers will work in Kuwait for about ten days, preparing for the participation of Czech troops in the operation. A small unit of about 20 soldiers is expected to leave for Kuwait in February. The total number of soldiers the Czech Republic is due to send to Kuwait is 350.

Czech Republic first to ratify firearms-control agreement

The Czech Republic on Friday became the first country since the September 11 attacks on the United States to ratify a firearms-control agreement. The European Convention on the Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms by Individuals is designed to fight weapons trafficking. Police agencies in nations that ratify the convention agree to share information about firearms - from handguns to missile launchers - bought, sold or "otherwise disposed of". Cooperating nations also try to help each other trace and find weapons transported across borders illegally. Last year the Czech government voted for ratification. On Friday, a Czech representative presented the formal ratification papers to the Council of Europe officials in Strasbourg.

Wissels: Czech entry to EU in 2004 very realistic

The European Commission negotiator for the Czech Republic Rutger Wissels praised the country's progress over the last two months in its preparations for accession to the European Union. Mr Wissels said on Friday the country had a good chance of completing its accession talks with the EU this year. He also said the Czech Republic's admission to the EU in 2004 is a very realistic possibility. The Czech Republic has closed 24 chapters in its accession talks with the EU and it is still to complete discussions on six other chapters.

Central bank to intervene unless crown reverses current trend

The Czech central bank will intervene, if the Czech crown remains at its current strength on the foreign exchange market, the bank's vice-governor Ludek Niedermayer said on Friday. At the end of last year, the Czech currency was posting gains chiefly due to the expectation of proceeds from the privatisation process. To fight the current strength of the crown, the central bank and the government have agreed to jointly tackle the impact of the money on the market. Although the central bank says that an optimum performance of the Czech economy will boost its competitiveness and the crown will gain in value as a result, a considerable growth is not desirable.

Prime Minister Zeman in Yugoslavia

The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman continued his visit to Yugoslovia on Friday, meeting the country's president Vojislav Kostunica, as well as the prime minister of Serbia, Zoran Djindic. Mr Zeman has said he believes the economic ties between the two countries will be strengthened in the future, especially in the energy sector, transportation systems, and agriculture. He added that the Czech business community is familiar with the Serbian market thanks to the long tradition in Czech-Serbian relations.

Weather

Finally a look at the weather. Friday night will be overcast with snow showers and fogs in places. The temperatures will range -2 and -6 degrees Celsius. Saturday will be cloudy or foggy as well, with scattered snow showers and temperatures between -2 and +2 degrees Celsius. On Sunday we can expect snow or sleet and temperatures around 0 degrees Celsius.