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Czech PM Says US Missile Base Is Question Of National Courage

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek
by Staff Writers
Prague (AFP) May 31, 2007
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek Thursday described his country's participation in a US anti-missile shield as "a question of national courage". "It is a question of national courage and of responsability towards our allies' defence," he said during a conference organised by the Czech foreign ministry.

Regarding Moscow's repeated warnings over the deployment of a tracking radar in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland, Topolanek said: "These facilites are not a threat for Russia at all, it is the opposite."

Washington has repeatedly sought to calm Russian fears with the message that the deployment of radar and missiles in the two former Soviet satellites is a defensive move aimed at protecting against a missile attack from the Middle East.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin maintains the US move could relaunch an "arms race" between the former Cold War adversaries.

"We estimate it is dangerous and harmful to transform Europe into a powder keg by filling it with new types of weapons," he said this week.

The roll out of the anti-missile shield in Central Europe will figure high on the agenda of US President George Bush during his upcoming visit to Prague on Monday and Tuesday ahead of the G8 summit in Germany.

Bilateral negotiations between Washington and Prague and Warsaw were launched in May concerning the framework for the two countries to host the US bases and staff.

Prague wants the shield to be integrated in NATO defensive system, a request which has created rifts between its Atlantic alliance allies.

The Czech government is also trying to convince domestic opinion about the US radar with opinion polls showing around two-thirds of Czechs opposed to hosting a foreign base.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Russia Missile Tests Aimed At US ABM Plans In Europe
Berlin (UPI) May 30, 2007
Russian President Vladimir Putin has again lashed out at the West for provoking a new arms race on the day his country tested a massive new rocket that he said can overcome any missile defense system the United States may place in Eastern Europe. Putin has long bashed Washington for its plans to place 10 bunker-protected rockets in Eastern Europe, arguing it was a threat against Russian territory and provokes a new arms race.

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