News of Radio Prague

Government talks continue, no breakthrough yet

Members of the Social Democrats continued talks on Tuesday with the Christian Democrats and right-of-centre Freedom Union on saving the centre-left coalition from collapse. Social Democrat Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla told reporters on Tuesday that the resignation of the cabinet was an "extreme measure" that would only be sought as a last resort. He said meetings underway between coalition leaders should diffuse the crisis and stabilise the government, which is just three months old. The crisis erupted last Friday, when a renegade Freedom Union MP voted against the government's tax reforms. The government has a majority of just one vote in parliament.

Spidla seeks to ease investor fears over Communist Party influence

As negotiations continued, Mr Spidla sought to allay investor fears over the potential growing influence of the Communist Party. Observers say a minority Social Democrat government would need the support of the largely unreformed Communists. Uncertainty over the future of the government has led to the Czech crown weakening to levels not seen in three months. Analysts say the longer the crisis lasts, the worse the effect on the currency will be.

Havel embarks on "farewell trip" to United States

President Vaclav Havel left for Washington on Tuesday in his last visit to the United States as Czech President. Mr Havel will visit the White House and also Ground Zero in New York. During his six days in the U.S., Mr Havel will meet U.S. President George W. Bush, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and also Cuban-Americans in Miami. The president spokesman said Mr Havel believed it was his last chance to use his international reputation to influence the United States.

Havel to push for NATO to accept seven newcomers

Before his departure Mr Havel said he would be pushing for NATO to take in seven post-Communist states in meetings with senior U.S. officials. The Czech President said he wanted NATO to accept Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the three Baltic states at its forthcoming summit in Prague. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland became the first post-Communist countries to join the alliance in 1999. The Czech Air Force said on Tuesday that U.S. jets would take part in the security operation for the summit.

Police continue hunt for bank robbers

Police are continuing their search for three men who staged what is being described as the Czech Republic's biggest ever bank robbery. Thieves dressed as an elite police commando unit stole an armoured car containing about 150 million crowns (five million U.S. dollars) in broad daylight on Monday outside a Prague branch of the American bank Citibank. The robbers hijacked the armoured vehicle after threatening the three guards with guns and explosives.

Weather forecast

Wednesday will be a rather cloudy day, with temperatures rising to 20 degrees Celsius. Scattered showers are forecast in some parts of the country. Temperatures at night will fall to lows of six degrees.