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Poland, U.S. ready to announce missile base location - Kaczynski

RIA Novosti

17/07/2007 10:17 WASHINGTON, July 17 (RIA Novosti) - Warsaw and Washington have determined the location of the future U.S. missile base in Poland and will announce their decision in the near future, the Polish president said.

"The location on the technical level is already decided, and we will soon announce where," Reuters quoted Lech Kaczynski as saying late Monday after a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush.

Kaczynski said there were a few issues, including the size of the base and manning levels for the site, were still being discussed, but "the matter of the shield is largely a foregone conclusion."

The Polish president is scheduled Tuesday to visit the Vandenberg Air Force base, about 130 miles (209 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles, where two missile silos and the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Office are located.

The U.S. national missile defense system also deploys 15 missile interceptors at Fort Greeley, Alaska.

If the talks between Warsaw and Washington are successful, the U.S. is planning to place 10 missile interceptors in Poland by 2013, with the first missile complex going on combat duty as early as in 2011.

The U.S. missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic has become the most controversial issue in relations between Russia and the United States, bringing them recently to their lowest point since the Cold War.

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared over the weekend that Russia would suspend its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) in an apparent response to U.S. actions that have angered Moscow.

General Yury Baluyevsky, Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, dismissed Monday the Pentagon's justification for the shield plans.

"As for the arguments [in favor of the shield], they can be described very simply - non-existent," he said in the interview, which was re-published on the Russian Defense Ministry's website.

He said that even the architects of a Europe-based U.S. anti-missile solution had already dropped their assertion that North Korea ever posed a military threat to the U.S. or Europe, and that "talk of a hypothetical Iranian threat takes a leaf from the same book," adding that this claim was also likely to be dropped soon.

"We are sure that U.S. missile defense capability, including a proposed European site, will develop, and its anti-Russian capability will increase in the future," Baluyevsky said. "In such an environment, we would be forced to take appropriate countermeasures."

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