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Poland Sees US Missile Shield Deal By October; As Russia Beefs Up Kyrgyzstan Base

Deputy Polish foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski.
by Staff Writers
Warsaw (AFP) June 27, 2007
Poland and United States could reach a deal by September or October on installing part of the US anti-missile defence system in the central European country, local media reported Wednesday citing a top foreign ministry official. Deputy foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski, who just completed a round of negotiations with the Americans, told Polish journalists in Washington that Warsaw was "satisfied" that US officials had accepted several of Poland's demands.

These included the immediate sharing of information obtained from a proposed radar system to be installed in the neighboring Czech Republic.

Washington wants to site 10 interceptor missiles in Poland as part of an extended defence shield against airborne attacks, along with a powerful tracking radar in the Czech Republic.

Russia however has strongly objected to the US plan and threatened to retaliate if the system is installed in central Europe. Moscow does not accept Washington's argument that the system is purely defensive and meant to target possible attacks from what the US calls "rogue states" such as Iran.

Instead Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed to US President George W. Bush sharing a radar alert system located in northern Azerbaijan.

"The Russian proposal is interesting, it has not been rejected," said Waszczykowski. "It is being looked at as a complementary system to the installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, not as a replacement."

The next round of talks on the anti-missile shield will take place during Polish President Lech Kaczynski's visit to Washington next month, followed by negotiations between the defence experts in early August in Warsaw.

earlier related report
Russia to build up Kant base in Kyrgyzstan - defense minister
Bishkek (RIA Novosti) Jun 29 - The Kant air base in Kyrgyzstan is strategically important for Russia, and Moscow will continue to reinforce it, the defense minister said Wednesday. "We must solidify our positions here, as this is of key strategic importance. The presence of Russian troops here is crucial," Anatoly Serdyukov said after visiting the base.

In light of the proposed deployment of a U.S. missile shield in Central Europe and the continued expansion of NATO, Moscow has become increasingly concerned over NATO's military presence close to its borders in Central Asia, a region historically within Russia's sphere of influence.

The Russian base in Kant, about 20 miles west of the Kyrgyz capital, created in October 2003, currently deploys about 400 troops, including 250 officers and NCOs and 150 conscripts, as well as 20 combat and transport planes and helicopters, and L-39 trainers.

The defense minister said a priority task was to enlarge the landing strip at the base to allow landings of heavy transport planes.

The Russian Defense Ministry earlier said it planned to increase the number of servicemen and combat airplanes at the Kant base over the next two years.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Source: RIA Novosti

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Raytheon Ships Second Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Radar To Missile Defense Agency
Tewksbury MA (SPX) Jun 27, 2007
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