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Polish, Czech Leaders Discuss Missile-Defense Plan

February 19, 2007 -- The prime ministers of Poland and the Czech Republic say they are likely to accept a U.S. proposal to host elements of an antimissile system on their territories.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek made the comment today in Warsaw after talks with his Polish counterpart, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

In a joint article published in the Polish daily "Rzeczpospolita," Topolanek and Kaczynski said the system would serve as "passive protection from attacks" for all members of the trans-Atlantic community.

The United States says the system is designed to guard the eastern United States and Europe from missiles launched by "rogue nations" in the Middle East.

The U.S. plan has angered Russia, which says it could disturb the balance of power in the region.

Moscow has threatened to withdraw from a 1987 treaty limiting short- and medium-range missiles in Europe if the plan goes ahead.

The commander of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces, Nikolai Solovtsov, spoke today of the possibility of Poland and the Czech Republic being targeted by Russian missiles if they agreed to host U.S. missile-defense bases.

"If there is a political decision [made by Russia] to withdraw from [the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty] that was signed between the United States and Russia, the Strategic Missile Forces will be capable of carrying out this task," Solovtsov said.

The United States says the missile system is designed to guard the eastern United States and Europe from missiles launched by "rogue nations" in the Middle East

(AP, Reuters)

Copyright (c) 2007. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org



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