Pope John Paul II, the French President Jacques Chirac, the Austrian President Thomas Klestil, the Chinese President Chiang Ze-min, and other world leaders have congratulated the new Czech President Vaclav Klaus on his inauguration. After his election last Friday Mr Klaus received congratulations over the telephone from US President George W. Bush and the German President Johannes Rau. The Slovak President Rudolf Schuster congratulated Mr Klaus shortly after his election last Friday.
Mr Klaus was sworn in on Friday afternoon as the second president in the history of the Czech Republic and the tenth head of state since 1918 when independent Czechoslovakia was founded. The inauguration ceremony took place at the historic Prague Castle. In attendance were members of parliament, foreign diplomats, as well as former president Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar.
Mr Klaus' inauguration sees him complete a political triumph, succeeding long-time former rival, the former dissident and playwright Vaclav Havel, who stepped down as president on February 2, after more than twelve years in office. Last Friday Mr Klaus narrowly won the presidency in a special joint-session of parliament, ending weeks of uncertainty about the future of the presidency after two previous election attempts ended in stalemate. Mr Klaus' presidential term will last until March 2008.
The joint Czech and Slovak anti-chemical, biological and nuclear battalion deployed in Kuwait has begun monitoring the chemical and radiation situation in the Kuwaiti capital in preparation for any retaliatory strike in the case of war against Iraq. Over the past two days the troops moved from their base at Camp Doha to strategic objects in the country, such as military bases and vital installations including the Kuwaiti oilfields. The joint battalion of about 400 Czech and 60 Slovak troops has a mandate to respond to attacks in 24 countries, including Israel and Turkey, as part of a task force with US and German troops. The Czech and Slovak parliaments have also given permission for the battalion to operate in Iraq.
An explosion shook the town of Valtice in South Moravia early on Saturday morning, digging a metre-wide crater in the street. An as yet unknown explosive went off in front of a car-dealer's house, but no one was injured, as the house was empty at the time of the blast. The owner of the house says the attacker must have mistaken him for somebody else. Police are investigating the case.
Sunday should be overcast and rainy, with snow in the mountains. Daytime temperatures are expected to range from 4 to 8 degrees Celsius.
Language exams for foreigners seeking permanent residency permit to become tougher
Czech teenager builds second-largest ever Millennium Falcon LEGO model
Gunman kills six patients in Ostrava hospital, two more fighting for their lives
Press: Era of 100-crown lunch special is over, as food prices rocket
HN: Developers aiming to sell co-living concept in Prague