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Czech KDU-CSL head says dispute over U.S. report solved

Prague, 29.3.2008 12:00, (ROMEA/CTK)

Czech Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) leader Jiri Cunek considers the dispute over critical remarks on him in a U.S. State Department's report settled, he told journalists today after meeting U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Richard Graber.

He said before the meeting that he considered the explanation the embassy sent him in writing sufficient.

In a letter to Graber, Cunek called the information on him in the U.S. report untrue, and he said he felt harmed by it.

The U.S. Department of State annual report on the state of human rights in the world cites Cunek and his bribery affair as an example of corruption in which high Czech government officials are involved.

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Cunek was suspected of bribe-taking. He resigned from the cabinet last November when the state attorney reopened the case of his alleged corruption. His prosecution was later definitively halted. He has not returned to the government yet.

Cunek said today Graber admitted that the U.S. report was based on various government's and NGO's sources and that it would be updated.

He said he considers the explanation that the U.S. embassy provided in its written reply to his letter according to which the report was prepared on the basis of various sources and would be updated next year sufficient.

He said U.S. Ambassador Graber also viewed the matter as settled to the satisfaction of both sides.

"It is an issue that we both consider closed and I firmly believe that the next report will be good and will be objective," Cunek said, adding that he named the sources to the ambassador from which the authors should draw information.

However, Cunek said he did not think he could advise anything to the American administration in this respect.

U.S. embassy spokeswoman Victoria Silverman told CTK that Cunek shared information on his case with the ambassador that Cunek considered important.

She said this information would be taken into consideration in the preparation of a U.S. report for next year.

The report also mentions the re-settlement of Romanies from the centre of Vsetin, north Moravia, when Cunek was the town's mayor.

Cunek wrote in reaction that the Czech police completed the investigation into the re-settlement of the Vsetin Romanies, concluding that it was not at variance with law.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek (Civic Democrats, ODS) also sharply criticised the U.S. report.

"As for the report by the U.S. Department of State, I can only say that a country that allows the torturing of prisoners can hardly teach me lessons about human rights being violated in my country," Topolanek said.

Cunek said that Topolanek's statement was not discussed today.

Apart from the report, Cunek and Graber also touched upon the current relations between the Czech Republic and the United States and discussed U.S. visa requirements for Czechs. The topic of the U.S. planned stationing of a missile defence radar on Czech soil was reportedly not discussed.

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