Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has announced that the Czech cabinet will release 15 million crowns for humanitarian aid to the Middle East. The Czech government has committed to sending humanitarian aid to both sides in the Lebanese-Israeli conflict. Mr. Svoboda says that the Lebanese government in Beirut has already received a cheque for five million crowns meant to aid civilians living in southern Lebanon, and as requested, the Czech Republic is sending fire hoses to Israel. Mr. Svoboda says that although compared to what France has donated, Czech aid is mostly symbolic, though the Czech Republic is one of the first EU countries to send humanitarian aid to the troubled region. Mr. Svoboda also pledged continued Czech aid for both sides involved in the conflict.
Meeting on Wednesday morning, Civic Democratic leader Mirek Topolanek and Social Democratic leader Jiri Paroubek, have agreed to begin a new round of talks to resolve the post-election stalemate. Both men say it's too soon to speak of early elections, and Mr. Paroubek told reporters that an agreement between the two biggest Czech parties could surface within two weeks. Mr. Topolanek and Mr. Paroubek will conduct a series of meetings in the coming days.
It has been two months since the early June elections ended in a political stalemate, and efforts at a three-party coalition between the Civic Democrats, the Social Democrats, and the Greens leave these parties one seat short of a governing majority. In recent days, the Social Democrats have indicated strong opposition to the three-party coalition, thus rendering its possible government highly unlikely.
Officials in neighbouring Slovakia have announced that they are seeking access to files of the communist-era secret police, the StB, which fell under the administrative control of the Czech Ministry of Defense after Czechoslovakia ceased to exist on December 31, 1992. The documents of interest are those that concern Slovak citizens. Slovak Minister of Defense, Frantisek Kasicky, has confirmed that his office has prepared the documents necessary to divide this portion of the StB materials between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech and Slovak ministers of defense must sign the agreement, and the parliaments of both countries must approve the transfer of the documents. According to Mr. Kasicky, experts from both ministries have already approved the text of the agreement, and the aim is to see the materials moved to Slovakia as soon as possible.
Since the beginning of this year, 2600 birds have been treated for symptoms of the bird flu in the Czech Republic, and 14 cases of the H5N1 virus have been confirmed. A Czech veterinary spokesman released the information on Wednesday, saying that the majority of cases were found in southern Bohemia. The last two reported cases of bird flu in the Czech Republic surfaced in May. Fourteen European Union countries have detected the bird flu this year, including neighbouring Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Poland.
Six people have been killed in a car accident following a chase with police in neighboring Germany, and German officials say that at least one of those dead is a Czech citizen. Police near Berlin were investigating what they suspect is a smuggling ring, bringing illegal migrants into Germany. Five of those killed in Wednesday morning's accident were Vietnamese. The driver of the vehicle attempted to avoid police and after a high-speed chase the car lost control and flew off the road into several trees. Three people died at the scene and another three in hospital. According to German police, the vehicle was under surveillance before the chase began and officers were trying to uncover the base of the smuggler's operations.
The weather is expected to cool by mid-week, with temperatures around 23 degrees Celsius, and scattered showers in most parts of the country.
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