News of Radio Prague

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Negotiations to continue over sale of state's majority stake in Cesky Telecom

The government has failed to reach a decision on the sale of its majority stake in the telecommunications company Cesky Telecom. Finance Minister Jiri Rusnok said after a government meeting on Wednesday that negotiations would continue on the price and conditions of the sale with two consortiums, Deutsche Bank, TDC and Blackstone Group and Swisscom, CVS Capital Partners and Spectrum Equity Partners. The government met in the city of Liberec, one of a number of such meetings being held outside Prague ahead of June's general elections.

Central bank intervenes again as Czech crown strengthens further

The Czech National Bank has intervened for the second time in a week as the Czech crown reached new heights against important foreign currencies. At one point on Wednesday the crown was 30.04 to the Euro - the highest level ever - and 34.08 to the US dollar - the highest level for 30 months. The central bank's intervention on the foreign exchange market was effective; at the close of trading the crown had weakened to 30.35 to the Euro and 34.50 to the US dollar. The finance minister, Jiri Rusnok, said the central bank had been right to intervene, and that the rate at which the Czech crown was strengthening did not correspond to economic development.

Government for Russia settling part of debt in form of military equipment

The government has approved a proposal under which part of the debt Russia has owed to the Czech Republic since the Soviet era would be paid off in the form of military equipment. The Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, is to discuss the proposal with the Russians when he visits Moscow later this month. The Czech Defence Ministry says Russia is in favour of such a deal, which would involve transport aircraft, fighter helicopters and spare parts worth some 300 to 400 million US dollars. Russia owes the Czech Republic some 1.1 billion dollars, down from 3.6 billion when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Work begins on car plant in Kolin

The first sod was turned on the site of a future joint Toyota-PSA Peugeot Citroen car plant in the central Bohemian town of Kolin during a ceremony on Wednesday. The event was attended by Prime Minister Milos Zeman, who said he was planning to hold talks with the president of the Japanese company Mitsubishi later in the day. The Czech Republic is the most promising environment in Central Europe for Japanese investors, said Mr Zeman.

Lower house committee fails to agree over loans to buy fighter jets

The lower house defence committee has failed to make any recommendation on a government-sponsored bill on a loan to finance the purchase of new jet fighters. At a meeting on Thursday, Civic Democrat members of the committee expressed opposition to the purchase, while MPs from the ruling Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats expressed support for the proposal. The Czech Republic plans to buy 24 Gripen fighter jets to replace the aging Soviet-made MiG planes currently being used by the Czech Army.

Using colour photocopier to forge banknotes naive, says judge

Two women who forged banknotes using a colour photocopier were given suspended sentences by the Prague City Court on Wednesday. Twenty-eight-year-old Lenka Prisovska made colour photocopies of 50, 100 and 200 crown notes, while Radka Vorlova, 27, gave the notes as change to customers in the shop where she worked. The head of the panel of judges said that the women's method displayed a certain naivety.

Weather

And we end with a look at Thursday's weather. It should be cloudy with rain or showers in places, with temperatures ranging from nine to thirteen degrees Celsius.