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U.S., Poland Reach Tentative Missile Deal

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski

Reports say the United States and Poland have reached a tentative deal to base American interceptor missiles in Poland for a future missile shield.

The United States reached preliminary agreement on setting up a radar base for the shield with the Czech Republic in April.

Washington says the proposed system is aimed at protecting Europe and the United States from potential missile attacks by states like Iran. But Russia is strongly opposed and says it is being targeted.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said he and the chief U.S. negotiator, John Rood, finished their talks on July 1 in Washington.

He said the results of the negotiations have now been given to Poland's prime minister and foreign minister for approval. Waszczykowski said it will be up to them to "make a political decision: yes or no."

Senior State Department officials, quoted by the major news agencies, also confirmed the negotiators reached a deal and that the Polish government now has to give its approval.

Aid Demands

Negotiations over the planned 10 missile interceptors ran for more than a year and proved more difficult than originally anticipated by Washington.

The Polish side demanded billions of dollars' worth of military aid from the United States to upgrade its overall defense capabilities after Russia threatened to target Poland and the Czech Republic with nuclear missiles if the shield went into operation.

In response, Pentagon officials suggested they might look at other European countries to host the missiles, including Lithuania.

No details on the contents of the agreement with Poland were made public, so it remains unclear if Warsaw got what it sought.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due in Prague next week to sign an agreement on building a radar base with the Czech Republic.

The Czech parliament, which must give its ultimate approval, is due to consider the issue during its fall session.

In both Poland and the Czech Republic, polls show most people oppose the U.S. missile shield -- another complicating factor for both governments.

compiled from agency reports