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Polish PM to Discuss Missile Defense with Bush in Washington

By VOA News
10 March 2008

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk will meet with President Bush Monday, in Washington to discuss U.S. plans to build a missile defense system in Poland.

Officials in Warsaw have expressed readiness to host 10 interceptors as part of a global missile defense shield, but they have made modernizing Poland's military a condition for installing the rockets.

Polish negotiators have asked for short- to medium-range air defenses and have identified 17 areas within the military the U.S. can help upgrade.

Poland says an urgent modernization of its armed forces is necessary because Russia has threatened to target it with nuclear weapons if the missile interceptors are installed.

Prime Minister Tusk and Mr. Bush are also likely to discuss NATO operations in Afghanistan.

Poland plans to increase its troop contingent there by 400 soldiers in April and send badly needed helicopters.

Last month, the Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich said a U.S. offer of military aid fell short of what Poland expects in return for hosting a U.S. missile defense system.

The United States also wants to install a radar system in the Czech Republic to create an anti-ballistic missile shield. But President Bush says the radar can not be installed until the U.S. reaches agreement with the Polish government.

The United States says the missile shield will protect the U.S. and its European allies from possible attack from what it calls rogue states such as Iran. Russia opposes the missile shield, saying the system will threaten its security and spark a new arms race.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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