Paroubek rejects criticism of Syria visit
The leader of the main opposition Social Democratic Party, Jirí Paroubek, who is on an official visit to Syria, has rejected criticism for meeting with leaders of the ruling socialist Ba’ath party, which has been accused of supporting international terrorism. Mr Paroubek said that the meeting was inevitable given the nature of the Syrian political system, but that it did not have any political content. He says his main reason for visiting Syria was to help “improve economic cooperation” with the Middle Eastern country. Both the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the American embassy in Prague declined to comment on the visit.