The Czech President, Vaclav Havel, has ended a six-day trip to the Middle East two days earlier because of health reasons. Mr Havel was due to continue his visit to Kuwait on Monday but was unexpectedly escorted home by the Kuwaiti emir's personal doctor.
The main aim of his Middle Eastern visit was to promote economic and political relations with Arab countries. At the weekend, Havel become the first Czech President to visit Saudi Arabia. On the occasion, the Czech Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hynek Kmonicek, signed an agreement with Saudi representatives on the sale of a building in Prague which will become the Saudi Arabian embassy later this year.
The ruling Social Democratic Party held its regional congresses at the weekend. Most delegates expressed their support for the current Labour and Social Affairs Minister Vladimir Spidla becoming the party's new chairman at the party's annual congress in April. The current chairman, Prime Minister Milos Zeman, has said he would not run for the post.
The Czech Finance Minister, Pavel Mertlik, has said it will be necessary to increase income tax for individuals in the future as one of measures to stop the widening state budget deficit. This move should be accompanied by cuts in state expenditures. Mr. Mertlik said that the Czech Republic enjoyed extremely low income tax, and that the current level for top-income groups should be increased from 32 percent to 35 percent. He also suggested that property taxes could be raised as well. Mr. Mertlik noted though that the current Social Democratic cabinet will not take the step during its term in office which expires in 2002.
Employees of Czech public TV have thanked the public for support during their six-week strike which ended on Saturday at noon. At a public rally outside the TV building, they expressed their gratitude to thousands of people who had regularly gathered outside the building to support the strike which has been considered as a fight for freedom of speech and against attempts to introduce political control over the nation-wide TV network. The strike ended after parliament's appointment of a new interim general director, Jiri Balvin, who will head the station until a the Lower House elects a new supervisory board which will appoint a new director.
Ice hockey now - and the Czechs beat Sweden 2:1 in their last match at the Euro Hockey Tour. Despite the victory, the Czech team ended last. Sweden scored the same number of points, but won on aggregate.
And finally, a quick look at the weather. We are expecting a cloudy day with scattered showers, afternoon highs should range from 6 to 10 degrees Celsius. Tuesday and Wednesday should be much the same, cloudy with showers, with he highest daytime temperatures between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.
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