President Vaclav Klaus met with the US President George W. Bush at the White House on Tuesday. The meeting lasted around thirty-five minutes and President Klaus later described it as "friendly and positive". The two leaders discussed transatlantic priorities, the situation in the Middle East, security issues as well as bilateral ties and the Czech government crisis. It was President Klaus' first bilateral meeting with the US leader since taking office two years ago. Commentators say it marks the end of a period of distinctly cool relations between the two statesmen widely attributed to Mr. Klaus' opposition to the war in Iraq. President Klaus is on a working visit to the United States, promoting his book on the Czech Republic's journey from communism to a free society.
Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has said he sees no reason for the government to initiate a vote of confidence in Parliament following the protracted government crisis. After a meeting with senior party officials, Mr. Gross told journalists that his Cabinet was fully functional and capable of meeting the challenges ahead. The Prime Minister also reiterated his intention to run for the post of party chairman at the upcoming party conference in March. Mr. Gross told journalists he was not considering leaving either of his posts - party chairman or prime minister. The ruling Social Democrats have been under pressure to ask Parliament for a vote of confidence and to choose a new party leader at their March conference.
Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda of the Christian Democrats has ruled out a possible rift in his party in connection with the government crisis which brought the Cabinet to the brink of collapse. Mr. Svoboda was responding to a statement made by the Social Democrat deputy chairman Zdenek Skromach who told the daily Pravo that if the Christian Democratic Party mounted another offensive against the Prime Minister then Christian Democrat ministers who remained loyal to the Gross government would not be asked to leave their posts. Minister Svoboda said that, whatever happened, the Christian Democratic Party would act as one man.
More house owners have decided to file a complaint against the Czech Republic with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over the regulation of rents. Czech house owners claim that the current regulated rents do not enable them to cover even the cost of maintenance of their property. They want rents to be raised to at least 49 crowns per square metre per month. The Association of House owners has welcomed the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights which in February issued a ruling in favour of Polish house owners who had a similar complaint. The court ruled that while rents could be regulated it should not be at the expense of house owners.
An avalanche alert is in force in the Czech Republic's mountain resorts following heavy snow showers in the last couple of days. Rescue teams say that there is now a danger of avalanches in places which are normally considered safe and have warned skiers not to leave the tourist trails. A young Czech miraculously survived an avalanche only last week. Trapped under two metres of snow, he used his mobile to call for help. He contacted the emergency team six times, helping them locate the site of the accident.
Wednesday is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered snow showers and day temperatures between minus 2 and plus 2 degrees Celsius.
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