Iraq has asked for the Czech military police contingent stationed in Basra to extend its stay in the country. Visiting Iraqi President Jalal Talabani made the request during talks with the Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek on Tuesday. The Iraqi president said that Czech military police instructors had an excellent reputation in his country and Iraq would appreciate if the training could continue for another year. The Czech Parliament is expected to vote on extending the contingent's mission.
President Talabani began an official tour of Europe on Monday with the Czech Republic as his first port of call. At a state dinner given in his honour at Prague Castle he and President Vaclav Klaus discussed the situation in Irak and the Czech role in ongoing reconstruction efforts. The Czech Republic has earmarked 1.9 billion crowns or 78 million dollars on the reconstruction of Iraq. Part of the money was spent on humanitarian aid, the operation of a Czech field hospital in Basra and a training programme for Iraqi police officers.
A last minute attempt by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek to avert a one day strike by general practitioners scheduled for Thursday appears to have failed. Private physicians have called the strike in protest of the poor payment morale of some insurance companies, which they claim to be so bad it is threatening their livelihood. The prime minister met with a delegation of physicians on Monday night to try and find a way of resolving the sectors financing problems but he said he would not be pressured into sacking the health minister Milada Emmerova whom many doctors blame for the crisis.
The Czech Republic has recorded the highest budget surplus in its modern history. The Finance Ministry reported a budget surplus of 25.8 billion crowns / 873 million euros/ in the first nine months of this year, the best result since the country's independence in 1993. Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the performance was a result of the government's careful spending and increased tax receipts, notably because of a crackdown on the grey market.
The Dutch retail giant Ahold has said it had completed the acquisition of 67 Julius Meinl stores in the Czech Republic. It did not specify the amount paid for them. The company announced the acquisition plan in August of this year and obtained approval from the Czech anti-monopoly office in September.
Wednesday is expected to be partly cloudy with day temperatures between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius.
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