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Poland Expects Obama To Proceed With Missile Shield

WARSAW (Reuters) -- Poland expects the incoming U.S. administration of Barack Obama to go ahead with the European missile-defense shield, parts of which will be located on Polish soil, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski has said.

Some Democrats in the U.S. Congress have questioned the planned missile shield and pushed to cut its funding, raising fears that Obama could walk away from the project after taking office in January.

The missile-defense shield, which would consist of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the neighboring Czech Republic, would help detect and shoot down any ballistic missiles fired at Europe and the United States by countries such as Iran.

President Dimitry Medvedev warned on November 5 that, as a response, Russia would deploy missiles in its western outpost of Kaliningrad, which neighbors Poland, and would seek to electronically jam elements of the U.S. system.

Under President George W. Bush, the White House had pushed to complete negotiations with Poland and the Czech Republic ahead of the November 4 presidential election.

Sikorski said Obama had told him some two months ahead of his election victory that he had concerns over the system's effectiveness and whether it was not directed against Russia, which condemns it as a threat to its security.

"If he is assured that it is not directed against Russia, then he would lean towards doing the usual thing, which is to honor the agreements of his predecessors," Sikorski said in a radio interview.

The Czech upper house of parliament delayed a vote on hosting the shield until December when a newly composed assembly takes office after recent election.

Polish officials have said they do not expect its legislature to vote on the agreement until next year.