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Czech-U.S. missile defense deal to be signed in late July

RIA Novosti

04/07/2008 17:32 BAKU, July 4 (RIA Novosti) - The United States will sign a deal with the Czech Republic to place a missile defense radar in the country in late July, the Czech foreign minister said on Friday.

"To finalize the European defense system, the U.S. and the Czech Republic will sign an agreement on an intercontinental missile-defense system at the end of July," Karel Schwarzenberg said after a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mamedyarov.

The U.S. plans to deploy a 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station on Czech soil. The plans are vigorously opposed by Russia, which considers them a threat to national security.

"This is a very important system for Europe. Weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery are proliferating in the modern world. If there are no immediate threats today, they will emerge in the future," the Czech minister said.

He said that after Russia's lease of Azerbaijan's Gabala radar station expires, its possible use could become a subject of NATO discussions.

Russia has offered the U.S. the use of its radar stations in Armavir in southern Russia and Gabala in Azerbaijan as alternatives, but Washington said they could only be used as "supplements," if at all.

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