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Czechs to stop gypsy exodus

The Government last night won an assurance from the Czech Republic that it would seek to prevent any further mass arrivals of gypsy asylum seekers into Britain.

The Immigration minister, Mike O'Brien, met the Czech minister without portfolio, Pavel Bratinka, for 40 minutes in London to discuss the arrival in recent weeks of more than 1,000 Czech and Slovak asylum seekers and their dependants.

During what was described as a "very useful and very friendly" discussion, Mr Bratinka acknowledged the burden that the mass arrivals had imposed on Britain and promised to try to help alleviate the situation. In the longer term, he said, the Czech government was working to integrate the gypsies - who often lacked skills and were the target of attacks from right-wing extremists - more fully into society.

Mr O'Brien said Britain intended to keep open its options on imposing visas on visitors from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, despite a warning from Mr Bratinka that it would only increase resentment against the gypsies.