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Czech Republic: Ill President Postpones British Visit

Prague, 30 October 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Czech President Vaclav Havel today postponed a visit to Britain planned for next week after contracting a viral infection.

Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek said Havel, who last year underwent lung surgery for removal of a small malignant tumour, was being treated with antibiotics for an infection connected to his chronic bronchitis.

The Czech leader had planned stops in England and Scotland during the visit planned for November 7-11. No new date has been set.

During the visit, Havel had been expected to discuss with British Prime Minister Tony Blair a recent influx of Czech gypsies seeking asylum in Britain. Czechs fear Britain may reimpose visa requirements as did Canada following a similar influx of Czech gypsies.

Havel called on Czechs yesterday to fight racism and warned Czech gypsies seeking to leave the country not to embark on an adventure that could end in disaster for them.