Clinton Visits Czech Republic Amid Nuclear Deal Hopes

From Google News

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the Czech Republic Monday for a brief visit, hoping to win a tussle with Russia and help secure a $10 billion nuclear plant contract for US giant Westinghouse.

After arriving before dawn in a snowy Prague, Clinton, on her first solo trip to the eastern European nation as secretary of state, was to meet later with Prime Minister Petr Necas and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.

“The Czech Republic, like many of its neighbours is significantly dependent on a single supplier and turning to the United States in partnership to develop its civil nuclear energy would be a way of diversifying that energy supply,” a senior State Department official told reporters travelling on Clinton’s plane.

Prague is aiming to extend its Temelin plant, south of the capital, and is set to start negotiations with the two companies left in the running this month.

Westinghouse faces stiff competition from Russia’s Atom Story Export, after France’s Areva was apparently ruled out of the tender process.

Earlier this month, Necas said the Czech Republic wanted to boost nuclear power to at least 50 percent of its electrical energy mix by around 2040 from the current 30 percent and cut coal use.

The Czech government is betting on nuclear power as its communist-era coal plants face likely closure due to tighter regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

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