Source AP ©

Yushchenko cancels trip to Czech presidential summit

Viktor Yushchenko canceled his trip to the Czech Republic where heads of state from central, southern and eastern Europe gather, for the deepening political crisis in his country, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said Friday.

Klaus, speaking on the second day of a three-day meeting, said a "tense" political situation forced Yushchenko to stay at home. He gave no other details.

The former Soviet republic has been mired in political crisis since Yushchenko last month ordered parliament dissolved and called for new elections - a move he said was necessary to prevent his longtime rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych from usurping power.

The crisis deepened Friday when Yushchenko ordered Interior Ministry troops placed under his command.

Round-table discussions and bilateral talks among 15 presidents were scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Brno, the Czech Republic's second-largest city, located 200 kilometers (125 miles) southeast of Prague.

The future status of Kosovo and a U.S. plan to locate parts of a new missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland were to be on the agenda.