The Czech Republic is one of six countries which will take part in an international conference on the creation of an interim government in Iraq. The conference is due to get underway in Baghdad on Sunday and will also be attended by representatives of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Spain and Poland. Foreign Ministry spokesman Vit Kolar said on Saturday the Czechs had been invited due to their experience in transformation from a totalitarian state to a democracy.
A Czech military field hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Basra has treated its first patients. Relatively few patients visited the hospital however, as Friday is a day of prayer for Muslims. The hospital is being guarded by British forces in control of Basra. Deputy Defence Minister Jaroslav Skopek said on Friday that the hospital would be working at full capacity by May 6.
The collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime has done little to change opposition among the Czech public to the war, according to a poll released on Friday by the CVVM polling agency. The latest poll, conducted in mid-April, suggests 70 percent of Czechs oppose the US-led war. A poll conducted in early March just before the war began suggested 72 percent of Czechs were against it. Of the 24 percent who said they were for the war in the latest poll, one third said it was necessary to remove Saddam Hussein while almost a quarter said it was a justifiable means of fighting terrorism.
President Vaclav Klaus has officially announced that a referendum on whether the Czech Republic should join the European Union will be held on Friday June 13 and Saturday June 14. It will be the first referendum in the country's history and will be preceded by a large advertising campaign in support of membership. If the referendum is passed the Czech Republic is expected to join the EU on May 1, 2004.
Prague police have arrested two men and a woman suspected of forcing teenage girls into prostitution. A police spokesperson said on Friday the gang's victims came from Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Ten pregnant girls from Bulgaria were in the gang's city centre flat when police raided it; the girls said they had been promised jobs in clothing shops. The three suspects are being held on charges of pimping and endangering the welfare of youths, but could face additional charges, police said.
The Czech Republic's ice hockey team have won their first game at the sport's World Championships in Finland. The Czechs beat Slovenia 5:2 on Saturday afternoon and take on Austria in their next game on Monday.
Sunday should be a rainy day around the Czech Republic with a maximum temperature of 19 degrees Celsius.
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