News of Radio Prague

Czech Foreign Minister looks set to chair UN General Assembly

The Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, looks certain to become the next chairman of the United Nations General Assembly, after the withdrawal of the only other candidate for the post, who was from Belarus. Mr Kavan is expected to be formally elected on July 8, and take up the post in September, a spokesman for the Czech Foreign Ministry said on Friday night. Mr Kavan will be the first Czech to hold the position.

Direct presidential elections in 2003 impossible, says Deputy PM

It is not possible that a successor to President Vaclav Havel will be elected by a direct vote next year, as there is now insufficient time to prepare a constitutional amendment allowing for direct elections, Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Rychetsky said in a radio interview on Friday. Mr Havel's term of office ends in February 2003 and a successor is to be chosen by parliament in the preceding thirty days. The governing coalition currently being formed by the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union is expected to push for direct presidential elections.

Coalition talks move on to division of ministries

Meanwhile, the three parties taking part in the coalition talks have been discussing the division of ministries. The leader of the smallest of the parties, the Freedom Union, Hana Marvanova, said ahead of Saturday's talks that they would be about ministries, not individual ministers.

Czech climber dies in Andes

A Czech climber has died on mount Paron in the Andes. Local police in Peru identified the climber as Tomas Sip, who was 43. They said Mr Sip died near the peak of the 5,400-metre mountain.

Havel meets Triska after King Lear opening at Prague Castle

A festival of William Shakespeare's plays at Prague Castle opened on Friday evening with King Lear. The title role was played by the renowned Czech actor Jan Triska, who now lives in the United States; it was his first theatre performance in this country for 15 years. Afterwards, the cast met President Vaclav Havel, who is a long-time friend of Mr Triska's. The Shakespeare festival runs until the beginning of September.

Driver says he lost truck full of cigarettes and alcohol

A Czech driver has said he lost a truck and its load with a combined value of 21 million crowns. The driver told the police that he had fallen asleep on the way from Germany to the Czech Republic in the early hours of Thursday morning and woken up in woods near Prague. A nationwide hunt has been launched for the truck, which is full of cigarettes and alcohol. A police spokesman said it was not impossible that the driver had made up the whole story.

Sunday's weather

Sunday should be cloudy in places with temperatures ranging from 19 to 23 degrees Celsius.