Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has begun an official visit to the United States, meeting at the White House with US President George W Bush. Mr Spidla is in the US to discuss bilateral relations, the continuing war on terrorism, and the Czech Republic's contribution to the rebuilding process in Iraq. In addition to meeting with Mr Bush, Mr Spidla will also meet with Vice-President Richard Cheney, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, and other senior politicians, during the six-day visit. Mr Spidla is joined by Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, Trade and Industry Minister Milan Urban and Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka. A number of Czech businessmen have also accompanied the delegation, hoping to lobby for their companies' participation in the rebuilding of Iraq.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has begun a two-day visit in France. He met with his French counterpart Jacques Chirac in Paris on Tuesday, expressing confidence the visit would allow for serious discussion on the future role of the Czech Republic in the European Union. Shortly preceding his visit, however, Mr Klaus gave a somewhat stormy interview to the French daily Le Figaro, expressing scepticism towards the current "Federalist" direction of European integration. In the interview Mr Klaus called the European constitution - put forward in draft form last month by the Convention on the Future of the EU - "unnecessary". He also repeated a statement made last month when Czechs voted on EU accession, that there was real danger that the Czech Republic would dissolve in the European Union. In his words: "like a lump of sugar in a cup of coffee".
Former president Vaclav Havel has been slated to receive the highest civil medal of honour given in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. At a ceremony later in July Mr Havel will be given the medal by US President George W Bush. Some three hundred individuals have received the medal to date, among them former Polish president and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa. Mr Havel will become the first Czech, however, to receive the honour, and the only foreign national to be given the medal this year. The Presidential Medal of Freedom has been awarded every year since 1945. But, only a little over 20 non-Americans have received the medal in all, among them Margaret Thatcher, Simon Wiesenthal, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and Anwar Sadat.
More than a hundred remaining tourists who bought vacation packages with the troubled Harmonie Medical travel agency will have to return to the Czech Republic from Croatia on Thursday, after the agency failed on Tuesday to pay-off debts covering their clients' stay on the Croatian island of Vis. The Czech consulate in Spilt, in co-operation with the Czech Foreign Ministry, has arranged for the return of the Czech tourists, who had paid as much as 1, 000 euros for their vacation packages. The clients, some of whom are physically-handicapped or convalescents, are now weighing legal action against the travel agency, to retrieve their lost funds. Apart from out-of-court settlement, legal action is the only path of action the tourists may take, as the agency failed to pay insurance against bankruptcy.
A 32-year-old Czech pilot is in serious condition after the glider he was manning crashed near the Kyjov airfield, in south Moravia, on Monday evening. The man had attempted to land the one-seater motor less glider, but missed a landing strip by some 100 metres, crashing into a nearby field. He suffered injuries to the chest and neck and is now in hospital. A police spokeswoman said that damages had not yet been calculated. Inspectors are trying to unravel possible causes for the crash.
Wednesday is expected to be mostly sunny with day-time temperatures of about 28 degrees Celsius.
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