Clinton in Prague to lobby for Westinghouse nuclear bid

Sun Dec 2, 2012 8:46pm EST
 
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By David Brunnstrom

PRAGUE (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will seek to convince Czech leaders of the advantages of picking U.S. firm Westinghouse over a Russian rival as the contractor for a $10 billion nuclear reactor project in meetings in Prague on Monday.

U.S. officials traveling with Clinton to Prague said the Temelin nuclear power project could bring as many as 9,000 jobs to the United States and would help diversify the Czech Republic's energy supply away from Russia.

Majority state-owned Czech firm CEZ applied on Friday to build two new blocks at its 2,000 megawatt Temelin nuclear power plant, in what would be the European country's biggest energy deal.

Westinghouse, a unit of Japanese firm Toshiba Corp, is competing with Russia's Atomstroyexport, which is bidding in a consortium with a Russian-owned Czech group.

U.S. officials said formal negotiations between the two bidders and the Czech government are expected to start in December, with a decision on the contractor expected in the spring.

Clinton is due to meet Prime Minister Petr Necas and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg on Monday morning.

"There will be the opportunity for the Secretary to support ... Westinghouse," a senior State Department official told reporters.

"It could be great in lots of ways - for American jobs, American companies, for energy security and diversity in the Czech Republic, for jobs in the Czech Republic and for a scientific and innovation partnership with the United States."   Continued...

 
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers questions from the audience at the 2012 Saban Forum on U.S.-Israel relations gala dinner in Washington, November 30, 2012. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert