President Vaclav Klaus who is on a one day visit to neighbouring Austria has said the Czech Republic is willing to talk but not to negotiate about the issue of the Sudeten Germans' expulsion after the Second World War. Mr Klaus added that for his part, he said all in a statement to mark the March anniversary of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. At a joint press conference with Mr Klaus, the Austrian President Thomas Klestil said Austria felt the Sudeten German question had not yet been solved "in a satisfactory way". In recent years Austria has been pressing for a "gesture" by Prague over the Sudeten Germans issue. The Austrian right-wing Freedom Party also demanded formal abolition of the post-war Benes Decrees legitimising the expulsion, threatening that the Czechs would otherwise be barred from EU membership.
Since becoming President in succession to Vaclav Havel in early March, Mr Klaus has toured the Czech Republic's neighbouring countries to stress the importance of good neighbourly relations. Austria is his fourth stop after visits to Slovakia, Poland and Germany.
The former Trade and Industry Minister Jiri Rusnok has given up his post as member of parliament for the Social Democratic Party. Mr Rusnok is to be replaced by twenty-six year old Robin Boehnisch. Mr Rusnok said he would remain a member of the Social Democrats and that he would return to his original profession of an economist. Prime Minister and Social Democrat chairman Vladimir Spidla dismissed Jiri Rusnok in March, stating bad communication with Mr Rusnok as the reason for his move. However, Mr Rusnok himself considers the real reason the fact that he voted for Vaclav Klaus, the candidate for the opposition Civic Democrats, in the February presidential elections. Last month, Mr Rusnok ran for Social Democrat chairman at the party national conference against Vladimir Spidla, but he lost and Mr Spidla was re-elected.
A part of the Czech military field hospital, which is being set up in the Iraqi city of Basra, is due to start work on Friday morning, the Czech ambassador to Kuwait Jana Hybaskova told reporters. A suitable location for the field hospital has been found and construction will start as soon as the site is cleared up. The field hospital, which will have two operating theatres and a capacity of 50 beds, should start serving the civilian population in and around Basra at the beginning of May. It has been sent to Iraq on a humanitarian mission and is not part of the US-led military operation underway in the country.
An explosive device was discovered and defused near where Czech and Slovak soldiers are stationed at Camp Doha in Kuwait, Czech newspapers reported on Wednesday. The 30-centimetre long tube was discovered on Monday. A robot was employed to recover the device. Colonel Dusan Lupuljev, who commands the 400-member unit of nuclear-biochemical weapons experts, said the device may have been designed for demolition tasks.
A joint venture between South Korea's LG Electronics and the Dutch electronics giant Philips said on Wednesday it was cutting production at its Czech tube plant because of shrinking sales. Two of the three picture tube manufacturing lines at the LG.Philips Displays plant would remain idle for about two weeks to adjust output to flagging demand for television sets worldwide. The company's spokesman also said some 600 out of 1,300 employees were at home. LG.Philips Displays, a 50-50 venture between LG Electronics and Philips, had spent 240 million euros during 2000-2001 to build the plant in the eastern town of Hranice. The plant opened in 2001 and launched full-scale production in January last year. It has installed capacity to make 2.5 million television tubes a year.
Thursday is expected to be partly cloudy. Daytime temperatures should reach highs of 19 degrees Celsius.
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