News of Radio Prague

Kavan on Iraqi crisis

The President elect of the 57th UN General Assembly Jan Kavan says intensive negotiations are underway to try to resolve the Iraqi crisis by diplomatic means. Mr. Kavan, who is attending the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, said the international community is putting extreme pressure on Iraq to fulfill all UN Security Council resolutions and to allow the return of UN arms inspectors to the country. "There is still some hope that a US attack against Iraq may be averted" Kavan said, noting that the majority of UN member states were strongly in favour of a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Iraq said on Tuesday it was ready to cooperate with the United Nations in finding an overall solution to the crisis, provided US concerns about its weapons programme were genuine and not a pretext to attack.

Czech ambassador to Kazachstan may be recalled

The Czech ambassador to Kazachstan Miroslav Andr may be recalled from his post. A foreign ministry spokeswoman said the matter was under consideration due to the ambassador's close links with Karel Srba , a former senior foreign ministry official who is currently being investigated for corruption and plotting to kill a journalist. In the past Srba and Andr worked closely together in the country's intelligence service. According to the head of Parliament's Security Committee Jan Vidim, Srba remained active in the secret service throughout his years at the foreign ministry and used his influence to send Andr to Kazachstan as a secret agent. Ambassador Andr has rejected the allegation that Srba was behind his appointment to the post.

Ban on meat imports to be partially lifted

The Czech Republic will re-open its market to meat imports from several EU states. The ban, imposed in connection with the BSE scare, will be partially lifted as of Thursday, September 5th, allowing EU countries with a low incidence of BSE to renew imports to the Czech Republic. Austria, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Greece all meet this requirement. All meat imports will naturally require BSE tests and a certificate of quality. Since the beginning of 2001, Czech labs have tested over 230,000 heads of cattle for BSE, with two positive results.

Coalition leaders debate tax hikes

The leaders of the three parties which form the Czech governing coalition are meeting to debate proposed tax hikes for 2003 as a means of covering the country' enormous flood-related expenses. The finance ministry has proposed increasing both income and consumer taxes, measures which would secure an extra 10 billion crowns in revenues. The debate is expected to be stormy since the right wing Freedom Union is strongly opposed to tax increases and is particularly critical of the Social Democrats' proposal to increase taxes for the rich.

Police investigate deaths by mushroom poisoning

The police is investigating the deaths of an elderly couple who died after apparently eating poisonous mushrooms. The case is considered unusual because the couple lived in the mountains and according to a neighbor were experienced mushroom pickers who would not easily confuse edible mushrooms with poisonous ones that grow in the area. The police has ordered autopsies on the bodies and toxicology tests on the remains of the meal they consumed. Mushroom picking is a popular hobby in the Czech Republic. Thousands of people engage in it and several deaths a year are reported from mushroom poisoning.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should be clear to partly cloudy with scattered showers and possibly thunderstorms in the afternoon hours. Afternoon highs between 22 and 27 degs C.