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Poland may agree to Russian missile checks on reciprocal basis

RIA Novosti

26/03/2008 18:20 MOSCOW, March 26 (RIA Novosti) - Poland will only agree to temporary inspections by Russian military personnel of U.S. missile bases on its soil, and only on a reciprocal basis, the Polish defense minister said Wednesday.

Washington has said that the missile defense shield the U.S. plans to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic would not be aimed at Russia, but aimed at countering possible attacks from 'rogue states' such as Iran and North Korea.

"We cannot countenance a permanent presence by representatives of the Russian Federation at a proposed [missile defense] base," Bogdan Klich said in an interview with the daily Dziennik.

"A U.S. base - if it is built - will not be an exterritorial object, but will be fully controlled by Poland," he said. "We can only agree to temporary inspections and, to reiterate, on a reciprocal basis."

He added that in exchange, Poland would like access to Russia's missile defense system.

Russian and U.S. officials are due to hold a new round of missile defense consultations in Washington later Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Moscow with Defense Secretary Robert Gates on March 18 for talks with Russia's Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

During the meeting the U.S. proposed a series of confidence building measures to Russia, in particular offering to allow Moscow to monitor the proposed U.S. missile defense bases in Central Europe.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the new proposals "useful and important."

Russia had earlier proposed its radar stations at Gabala in Azerbaijan, and Armavir in south Russia, as alternatives to the U.S. plans.

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