News of Radio Prague

Egypt insists Zeman trip be postponed in wake of Arafat remarks

Egypt is calling for the postponement of a planned visit by the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, following Mr Zeman's controversial remarks about the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The Czech consul in Cairo confirmed on Wednesday that Egypt was insisting the visit - planned for next week - be postponed in the wake of the remarks. The row erupted on Tuesday, following the publication of an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, in which Mr Zeman appeared to compare Yasser Arafat to Adolf Hitler. Mr Zeman has denied making the comparison and claims he was misquoted by the newspaper. However in a separate interview with Israeli television, Mr Zeman is clearly heard to answer "of course" when asked if he was comparing the two men. The remarks have been condemned by Palestinians, EU leaders and many Czech politicians. The opposition Coalition grouping has called on Mr Zeman to resign.

Fischer seeks to ease tensions over Zeman remarks

And the German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer sought to ease tensions created by Prime Minister Zeman's remarks during his visit to Prague on Wednesday. Mr Fischer said he was satisfied with the explanation given by Mr Zeman. Earlier this month the Czech Prime Minister angered many Germans when he described Czechoslovakia's large ethnic German community - who were expelled en masse after the Second World War - as "Hitler's fifth column." Mr Fischer refrained from criticising Mr Zeman's comments, but told reporters the Czech Republic should follow his country's example by admitting historical mistakes.

Court clears former Communist prime minister of abuse of office

Former Prime Minister Lubomir Strougal has been cleared of charges tied to three killings carried out by the Communist secret police in the late 1940s. A Prague district judge acquitted the 77-year-old former premier, saying there was insufficient evidence for a conviction. The charges concerned Mr Strougal's activities as Interior Minister, a post he held in the 1960s. He was charged with abusing his ministerial position by allegedly covering up the killings during a criminal investigation into the case in 1965. The prosecution's case was dealt a serious blow last month when three key witnesses failed to appear in court. The verdict has been condemned by former political prisoners.

Kavan calls on NATO to open doors to new members in November

The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has said his country is in favour of NATO throwing its doors wide open to new members when the alliance meets in Prague later this year. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr Kavan said he would like to see the 19-member block taking in up to seven new members in light of the new security situation following last year's attacks on the United States. The United States has also spoken in favour of wide expansion, with Secretary of State Colin Powell saying in December the alliance was on track for a "robust enlargement". NATO took in the first post-Communist countries - the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland - in 1999.

Czechs sentenced to life by Greek court for heroin smuggling

Two Czech citizens have been sentenced to life in prison by a court in Athens after being found guilty of smuggling heroin across the Greek-Turkish border. The two - 31-year-old Milan Lesniak and 29-year-old Bronislava Paclova - were arrested after Greek customs officers found more than 30 kilos of heroin in their car last June. Both of them have appealed against the sentence.

Valenta clinches Czechs' first gold in Salt Lake City

The Czechs are celebrating their first gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The acrobatic skier Ales Valenta pulled off a historic new jump to claim Olympic gold in the men's freestyle aerials event. Valenta impressed the crowd and judges with a triple summersault, five-twist jump to win the gold. It was only the third time he had successfully completed the unique jump.


And finally a look at the weather. Thursday will be a cold and cloudy day, with snow in mountainous areas. Temperatures in the daytime will range from zero to five degrees Celsius.