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U.S.-Czech missile defense deal to be signed in May - agency

RIA Novosti

07/04/2008 18:53 WARSAW, April 7 (RIA Novosti) - Washington and Prague will sign a bilateral treaty on the stationing of a U.S. radar base on Czech soil in early May, a Czech news agency reported on Monday.

CTK quoted a U.S. Embassy spokesperson as saying the deal will be signed in Prague by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.

The U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, Richard Graber, announced Rice's upcoming visit to Prague on Sunday.

The U.S. is planning to modify its X-band radar on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific and relocate it to the Czech Republic as part of its proposed European missile shield, which will also include 10 interceptor missiles in Poland.

The missile defense plans have been fiercely opposed by Russia, which views them as a direct threat to its national security, and have contributed to bringing Washington-Moscow relations to their lowest point since the Cold War.

As part of the deal with Prague, the country has been demanding access to at least five U.S. military research projects and a visa facilitation agreement with the United States.

The base treaty has yet to be ratified by Czech parliament and signed by President Vaclav Klaus. However, Rice and Schwarzenberg said at the NATO summit in Bucharest last week that the Czech-U.S. negotiations on the treaty have been completed.

In addition to the missile defense treaty, the United States and the Czech Republic are to sign the SOFA treaty on the stationing of U.S. troops in the country.

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