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Iraqis To Hear Radio Free Europe

October 8, 1998

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) _ The Czech government allowed Prague-based Radio Free Europe to broadcast into Iraq on Wednesday, but insisted the station’s location should change to avoid security risks.

Earlier this year, the U.S. government-funded radio station announced plans to expand its broadcasts into Iran and Iraq. But the Czech Cabinet expressed concerns because the station is in a densely populated residential area in northern Prague.

``The government agrees with the RFE broadcasts (into Iraq) on condition that, due to security risks involved, the station’s location be reviewed,″ Vice Premier Vladimir Spidla said Wednesday.

``We think the present location is not a suitable one,″ Spidla said.

He said consultations about a new location were already under way but offered no details.

During the Cold War, RFE was popular among Czechs and others in the Soviet bloc as an alternative to the communist propaganda of their own media.

RFE began transmitting from Munich, Germany, in 1951, spreading uncensored news to Soviet-controlled countries behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.

It moved its headquarters to Prague in 1995, following the collapse of communism six years earlier and began broadcasting out of a prominent downtown building that once served as Czechoslovakia’s parliament building.

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