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Poland to discuss missile shield with U.S. after consulting NATO

RIA Novosti

23/11/2007 18:24 WARSAW, November 23 (RIA Novosti) - Poland will be ready to resume dialogue with the United States on the missile defense issue after consultations with NATO and neighboring states, the prime minister said on Friday.

"We are aware of the political and military weight of the [U.S.] missile defense initiative," Donald Tusk said in a policy speech to parliament. "We will be ready to conduct further negotiations on the issue after a series of consultations with NATO and some of our neighbors."

The premier, addressing the legislature for the first time since his Civic Platform party's election victory, was not specific about which neighbors Poland wants to consult with, but Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said Thursday he was in favor of further consultations with Russia.

Tusk earlier said his government had "no rigid doctrine regarding the deployment of a U.S. missile defense base in the country," and that issue was "open for all arguments for and against."

The center-right politician, widely expected to pursue warmer ties with Russia and Germany than under his predecessor Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said the new government would want to be certain that Warsaw will not finance a project that is not in the national security interest.

Washington is planning to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as part of its European missile shield, despite Russia's concerns.

The first U.S. missile interceptor could be put on combat duty in Poland as early as 2011, and the base may become fully operational by 2013.

Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the U.S. had made a formal reply to Moscow's proposals that Washington utilize its radars in Azerbaijan and southern Russia to counter possible missile attacks from "rogue regimes."

The ministry did not clarify what the U.S. response was, but a ministry source said it came as a surprise, and contradicted earlier U.S. pledges.

"Initial studies show that our hopes have not been justified. This is not what Russia was promised at talks in Moscow [in October] in the '2+2' format [between the foreign and defense ministers]," the source said.

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