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Czech Republic mulls embassy closures

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- The Czech Foreign Ministry is weighing closing its consulate in Montreal to save money and in response to Canada's visa rules, diplomatic sources say.

Besides the general consulate in Montreal, Czech Republic diplomatic officials told Czech news agency CTK that embassies in Harare, Zimbabwe, and Luanda, Angola, also were being considered for closure.

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Foreign Minister Jan Kohout did not comment about specific location to Prague daily, Mlada fronta Dnes, but did confirm that plans for shuttering some diplomatic offices abroad were being prepared.

"Under the original austerity plans, the closure of up to 20 diplomatic offices was considered. The figure

fell to 10 and it will eventually will be somewhat smaller," Kohout said. "As a result, we will reduce the diplomatic staff at large embassies in Europe and strengthen smaller offices in the countries with a potential of bigger economic cooperation."

In May, the Czech Republic closed its honorary consulate in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Valerie Raymond, Canadian ambassador to the Czech Republic, said Canada did not plan to lift new visa requirements for Czechs. Canada instituted the changes in July after thousands of Czechs asked for asylum in Canada, Mlada fronta Dnes said.

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