The Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, is due to hold talks with his US counterpart Colin Powell in Brussels on Thursday morning. It is expected the meeting will concern the US-led war against Iraq, future reconstruction of the country and humanitarian aid. The Czech Republic has said it will only take part in the war if Iraq uses weapons of mass destruction. However, it is expected to send a field hospital to the region and will participate in humanitarian projects.
A twenty-one-year-old student burnt himself to death in the west Bohemian town of Plsen on Tuesday night in protest at what he called the sorry state of world affairs and society in general. The youth doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire in a car park in the town shortly after midnight. The young man, described as an excellent student, left suicide notes for his family and the police. Also on Tuesday night a 26-year-old man attempted to burn himself to death in Prague. He was taken to hospital with 85 percent burns.
Contrary to expectations the Senate has failed to pass an amendment tightening a bill restricting tobacco advertising. The result of Wednesday's vote is that the wording of the bill approved by the Chamber of Deputies will now be submitted for approval by the president. Under that wording advertisements for tobacco products would be restricted to tobacconists from June next year.
In other Senate business, the Civic Democrats (ODS) failed to have a discussion about the participation by two senators in the recent opening of a Sudeten German office in Prague included in the upper house's agenda on Wednesday. The Civic Democrats said the Freedom Union's Jan Ruml and the Social Democrats' Frantisek Mezihorak, who hold Senate functions, were not merely acting in a private capacity when they attended the opening of the controversial Landsmanschaft office. After World War II the Sudeten Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia en masse and they continue to demand redress.
The president of the Czech Tennis Union, Ivo Kaderka, says he is considering not sending a Czech Fed Cup team to face the United States on April 26 and 27 due to fears of a possible terrorist attack. Mr Kaderka has sought a guarantee of the Czech women's team's safety from the Czech Foreign Ministry and the chairman of Parliament's Defence and Security Committee. A decision is to be made in two week's time on whether to allow the Czech team to go.
Thursday should be cloudy with rain in places, though some parts of the country can expect sunny spells. The maximum daytime temperature should be 10 degrees Celsius. And weather forecasters are warning that the current spring weather will end this weekend, with temperatures set to fall by as much as ten degrees.
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