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Poland says U.S. missile shield deal 'one step closer'

RIA Novosti

21/07/2008 15:03

WARSAW, July 21 (RIA Novosti) - Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on Monday that Warsaw and Washington had moved a step closer to an agreement on the placement of a U.S. missile base in Poland.

Sikorski met in Warsaw with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried earlier on Monday and said after the talks that the Polish and U.S. positions had taken "another step closer."He also called the talks, "The kind that take place between friends."
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 U.S. is planning to link the missile base in Poland with an early warning radar in the Czech Republic. The Czech government has already agreed to the U.S. plans, pending approval by parliament.

Poland has been pushing the U.S. to spend billions of dollars upgrading Poland's air defenses in exchange for allowing the deployment of the interceptor missiles, citing Russia's threats to target U.S. missile shield facilities in Europe.

A Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman said however that the Sikorski-Fried meeting and the upcoming Polish-U.S. consultations on strategic partnership on Wednesday indicated that talks on the missile shield were continuing.

The spokesman also said that on Sunday a declaration to guarantee Polish security had also been prepared as a possible addition to the agreement on the U.S. base. Details of the potential deal were not disclosed.

Last Wednesday, Sikorski said that Poland was disappointed with Russia's stance over the proposed missile shield. Russia views the possible deployment of the U.S. missile shield as a threat to its national security.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said last week after the U.S. and the Czech Republic signed a treaty on the missile shield, that if the treaty becomes legally binding, and U.S. strategic missile defense elements are deployed near Russia's borders, Moscow would be forced to respond with a "military-technical approach" rather than a diplomatic one.

The Russian Izvestia newspaper cited on Monday a high-placed military source as saying that Russia may even consider stationing Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers in Cuba if the U.S. missile shield is deployed in Europe.

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