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Poland reiterates U.S. missile defense 'no threat to Russia'

RIA Novosti

10/06/2008 19:25 BAKU, June 10 (RIA Novosti) - Poland is holding discussions with Russia over the possible construction of U.S. missile defense facilities on its territory so that Moscow can be confident they pose no threat to Russian national security, the Polish ambassador to Azerbaijan said on Tuesday.

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.

"We are looking very carefully and positively at relations with our 'big neighbor' and discussing the issue with them, as well as searching for proposals that, in the event of the [missile defense] system being built on the territory of Poland, our friends in Moscow will be able to be sure it is not against Russia," Krzysztof Krajewski said, adding that the issue was complicated and contained "many sensitive details."

Washington also wants to deploy a radar station in the Czech Republic as part of its missile defense plans. Russia has offered the U.S. the use of its radar stations in Armavir in southern Russia and Gabala in Azerbaijan as alternatives.

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. The offer has however been rejected by the former Soviet republic.

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.

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