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Czech PM reaffirms support for U.S. missile shield

RIA Novosti

24/10/2007 11:42 WARSAW, October 24 (RIA Novosti) - Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said late Tuesday that his country is committed to continuing preparations for the placement of a radar on its territory as part of a U.S. missile shield in Europe.

Topolanek met with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is on a visit to the Czech Republic to discuss details for the proposed plan for deploying a missile defense radar in the country, in addition to a missile interceptor base in Poland.

"I hope that we will have everything coordinated before my trip to the United States at the beginning of next year, in February at the latest," Czech CTK news agency quoted Topolanek as saying.

"We have agreed with the U.S. defense secretary that we could finalize the preparation of a base agreement [on missile shield] and coordinate the specifications of the radar [in the Czech Republic] by the end of this year," Topolanek said.

Washington insists that a missile shield in Europe is needed to protect the U.S. and its NATO allies from potential missile attacks coming from Iran or North Korea, despite Russia's objections.

The U.S. defense secretary reiterated at the meeting with Topolanek that the U.S. missile shield posed no threat to Russia, and said that Washington had proposed delaying full activation of the future missile defenses until "definitive proof" of a threat from so-called rogue states had been obtained.

Gates also said that U.S. proposals aimed at easing Moscow's concerns over the European shield included allowing Russian experts to maintain a presence at the Czech and Polish missile sites to monitor their activities.

At a news conference after the talks in Prague, the Czech prime minister declined to comment on how his government might react to this proposal.

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