The Czech government will focus its foreign policy on the Balkans, Asia and Latin America in the remaining 10 months of its term in power, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said.

Speaking at a meeting with Czech ambassadors at the foreign ministry in Prague, Paroubek said the policy focus on Asia had to reflect present world developments and the shift to that region.

'The contours of the multi-polar arrangements are appearing. The focus is shifting to Asia. China and India are beginning to be global players. This should be reflected in our foreign policy,' Paroubek said.

The Czech premier said he intended to visit all three regions, starting with the Balkans in the next few weeks, including Kosovo where 500 Czech troops are stationed.

'The Czech Republic wants to calm the situation there and help to stabilise the region, and therefore will keep its soldiers in place,' he said.

Speaking in support of Croatia's efforts to join the European Union, Paroubek said EU accession talks with Croatia should start as soon as possible and should not be dependent on the extradition of generals suspected of war crimes to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Paroubek also confirmed that the Czech Republic does not plan to withdraw Czech military police from Iraq in the near future, emphasizing the importance of the democratisation of Iraq. Around 100 Czech police officers are active in Iraq.