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Poland against permanent presence of Russian experts at U.S. base

RIA Novosti

04/06/2008 10:52 WARSAW, June 4 (RIA Novosti) - Poland would agree only to regular inspections by Russian military experts at a planned U.S. anti-missile base in the north of the country, but not to their permanent presence, the Polish Foreign Ministry has said.

The ministry's spokesman, Piotr Paszkowski, said late on Tuesday that Warsaw would never allow the permanent presence of Russian military personnel at the base due to the "past history" of relations between Russia and Poland.

Poland and the United States have been engaged in protracted talks over a U.S. request to place 10 interceptor missiles in northern Poland as part of a U.S. missile shield for Europe and North America against possible attacks from "rogue states," including Iran.

The Pentagon's plans continue to be a major bone of contention in relations between the U.S. and Russia, which considers the project a threat to its national security. Washington has proposed a range of measures to ease Russian concerns, including regular inspections of the base in Poland by Russian military experts.

However, Russia is insisting on the permanent deployment of Russian personnel at the proposed facilities in Poland.

"We may consider other ways of ensuring regular access for the [Russian] inspectors, including remote video monitoring," Paszkowski said.

Meanwhile, Poland continues to insist on the modernization of its armed forces, primarily its air force and air defense, with financing to be provided by Washington, in exchange for agreeing to the placement of the U.S. base on its territory.

Warsaw is particularly interested in U.S. short- and medium-range missile systems, such as Patriot PAC-3, THAAD and ground-based AMRAAM.

"The date for the conclusion of the [missile base] talks has not been set," the Polish diplomat said. "...they will end whenever both sides reach an agreement."

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