The president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, began his official tour of Europe on Monday, with the Czech Republic as his first port of call. He met with Czech Vaclav Klaus at Prague Castle and was to attend a state dinner in his honour Monday evening, following a series of ministerial-level meetings. The Czech Republic has a contingent of some 100 military police and instructors in Iraq, as well as a mobile field hospital and specialised anti-chemical warfare troops. The Iraqi President was to discuss the possibility of Czech instructors providing training to the Iraqi army, and the Czech role in ongoing reconstruction efforts.
The Finance Ministry said on Monday that the Czech state budget for September has shown a surplus of a record 25.8 billion crowns (over 1 billion dollars- the best result through the month of September since 1993. It marks a year-on-year improvement of some 66 billion crowns. Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the result can be attributed to more efficient tax collection and other measures to reduce the 'grey' economy.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel has been included on a list of 100 names from which readers of the British magazine 'Prospect' and the US magazine 'Foreign Policy' have been asked to choose the world's top five intellectuals. The readers' opinion poll closes October 10 and results will be declared in November. The American linguist and dissident Naom Chomsky is an early favourite to head the list of the top five, with more than 14,000 votes already cast.
In business news, the national carrier Czech Airlines (CSA) sustained a loss of 464 million crowns in the first half of this year, not the planned profit of 177 million crowns, Czech public television reported. The results were based on documents discussed by the carrier's supervisory board, as Czech Airlines has not published the results. CEO Jaroslav Tvrdik blamed jumps in the price of fuel for the losses.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor has said it is ready to exit the Czech and Slovak telecoms markets and has already started talks to with interested parties for its Nextra and Telenor units in the two countries. Nextra offers Internet access and communications services, and Telenor provides DSL services. All companies are to be sold at once. Reported to be among interested parties is the British giant Vodafone, which bought the Czech mobile operator Oskar this spring.
On Monday, the closing day of the world slalom canoe championships Monday in Australia, the Czech Republic beat Britain for gold in the women's K1 event at Penrith Whitewater Stadium. It was Britain's first silver medal at a world slalom canoe championship. Austria took the bronze.
Partially cloudy skies and daytime highs of 20 degrees Celsius is the forecast through Friday. That was the news bulletin, I'm Brian Kenety. Stay tuned now for the rest of our programme
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