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Poland, U.S. agree on missile shield terms

Poland and the U.S. have reached a tentative agreement on the deployment of an American missile base in Poland, a leading Polish TV channel reported.
WARSAW, July 3 (RIA Novosti) - Poland and the U.S. have reached a tentative agreement on the deployment of an American missile base in Poland, a leading Polish TV channel reported.

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.

Polish TVN24 television cited on Wednesday Deputy Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski as saying that he had concluded preliminary talks with the chief U.S. negotiator, John Rood, in Washington and passed the results to Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.

Washington officials have already expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the two-day talks and said they were waiting for final approval of the plans from Warsaw.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried, said: "We are very satisfied with the way we left things and we want to hear the next words, the next stages, from Warsaw."

Poland apparently managed to strike a good bargain with the U.S. 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, although the details of the tentative agreement are still not known.

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

Prime Minister Donald Tusk earlier told reporters: "We approach this issue from the assumption that the missile defense base, on its own, does not strengthen Poland's security. A decision on this must be accompanied by a number of other decisions that will objectively, and materially, improve Poland's security."

The U.S. already gives Poland $27 million per year in military funding, the highest to any European ally, and the Bush administration earlier this year offered an extra $20 million per year. However, the Poles insisted that the funding level was still not enough.

Tusk is scheduled to meet with U.S. Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe on Thursday.

As part of its global missile shield 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.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to visit Prague and Warsaw on July 8-9 to discuss missile defense with Czech and Polish government officials. Warsaw may have a response by then.

Russia is strongly opposed to the possible deployment of the U.S. missile shield as a threat to its national security. Washington insists the defenses are needed to deter possible strikes from 'rogue states.'

"We keep repeating for the Russians' benefit, as well as anybody else's who is listening, this isn't about Russia," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Wednesday. "As a matter of fact ... we would like Russia to cooperate on the issue of missile defense."

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