Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda left for the United States on Wednesday for a three-day official visit. Mr Svoboda is expected to meet his US counterpart Colin Powell and other senior US politicians. Besides holding talks on bilateral and international relations, Mr Svoboda hopes to visit an ice-hockey game with Czech NHL star Jaromir Jagr and officially open a park with a statue of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia. Next week, Mr Svoboda is expected to visit Vietnam, the Philippines, and New Zealand.
Social Democrat MPs have been reacting to former Prime Minister Milos Zeman's recent comments in the media that have been highly critical of the current party leadership. Giving interviews from his country cottage, Mr Zeman, who retired from politics last year, has lashed out at Social Democrat leader Vladimir Spidla and Deputy-Chairman Stanislav Gross, blaming them for disunity within the party. This, he says, is why deputies voted tfor he opposition's candidate Vaclav Klaus instead of the ruling coalition's Jan Sokol in Friday's presidential elections. Social Democrat MPs have been calling on Mr Zeman to either share his opinion with the parties involved directly or stay out of party politics.
A Czech government tender to sell the country's top oil group Unipetrol faces a delay after the state privatisation agency cancelled its search for an adviser on the sale on Wednesday. The National Property Fund (NPF), which manages the sell-off, said it had scrapped the tender for an adviser on the recommendation of the steering committee in charge of the process. The committee proposed a rejection of all offers from potential bidders on the grounds they did not meet the required criteria. The NPF said it would open a new tender next week. It gave no details about the failed offers.
Police in the town of Sedlec, near the Moravian city Brno, have arrested 35 Chinese citizens believed to have been planning to cross the Czech border into Austria illegally. The police also arrested three Czechs in their mid-twenties who are suspected of having organised the plan to smuggle the Chinese group across the border. A foreigner's police spokesman has said that one of the Czech men had already been arrested once before when he was caught during an earlier attempt to smuggle a different group of 17 Chinese nationals into Austria.
Thursday will see overcast skies with temperatures between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius.
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