News Thursday, SEPTEMBER 17th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-news date: September 17th, 1998

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm DL and we begin as usual with a look at the main newsstories

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail

Havel-USA

President Havel is on a four day official visit to the United States. He and the first lady received a warm reception at the White House on Wednesday. In a short speech President Clinton said Vaclav Havel was a great inspiration to the world, a man whose love for his homeland enabled him to change it, against tremendous odds. There was nobody in the whole of Europe, Clinton said, who had done so much to shape a better world.

For his part President Havel thanked the United States for supporting his country in the process of reform, and in particular for supporting its entry to NATO. At a joint press briefing with President Clinton later in the day the Czech head of state expressed bewilderment at the way the way the United States had reacted to the Lewinsky affair and went out of his way to show his support and friendship for the US leader. "America is a big, big country with many different faces, Havel said. I like most of those faces -but there are some which I simply don't understand" .

On his first day in Washington the Czech president likewise met with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to discuss the state of bilateral relations . Despite fears for his health, President Havel is reported to be holding up to the pressure of a packed schedule very well indeed. The President will spend the greater part of Thursday meeting with leading US Senators.

Albanians on the run

Police are searching for 8 Albanians who are believed to be responsible for the shoot-out with Romanies in the town of Varnsdorf this past weekend. One is to be charged with manslaughter, the others with holding weapons illegally. The conflict arose over a late night- incident between Romanies and Kosovo Albanians in a bar in which a Romany was seriously injured. Some 200 angry Romanies then surrounded the Albanians' motel determined to deal with the offender. The result was a shoot-out in which a Romany died and several others were injured. The town's magistrate has re-enforced security on the streets.

Cabinet

The Czech Cabinet has approved a government proposal to raise consumer taxes. The tax rise will affect among other things, the price of petrol and cigarettes. The proposed amendment to the law should bring an extra six billion crowns into state coffers. The Cabinet has already included them in its budget proposal for 1999 , despite the fact that the tax raises have yet to be approved by Parliament.

Unemployment forecast

The Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs is expecting unemployment figures in the Czech Republic to rise to between 8,5 and 9 percent in 1999. Thus far the record unemployment figure has been 6,4 percent in August of this year. The ministry also announced unemployment benefits would not be valorised in the course of 1999.

Finally, a look at the weather :

Thursday should be partly cloudy with occasional showers and day temps between 11 and 15 degs C. Nighttime lows between 9 and 5 degs.