Friday, February 16, 2007

Polish Premier supportive of US Base

By RYAN LUCAS - Associated Press Writer WARSAW, Poland -- The prime minister voiced support Thursday for a U.S. missile defense base on Polish soil - as long as Warsaw can negotiate a good agreement with Washington. Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's comments were the clearest sign of support so far from the Polish government for the U.S. request to host a missile interceptor site. Russia has sharply criticized the plan, as well as a U.S. proposal to build a radar system in the Czech Republic, saying it could disturb the balance of power in the region and stoke a new arms race. Kaczynski said at a news conference that Poland is "in favor of reaching an agreement on the missile defense issue," but he added that "doesn't mean we will accept every condition." He did not elaborate on what a good deal for Poland would entail, although Polish officials have suggested the U.S. could take other steps to ensure Warsaw's security, such as offering Poland Patriot air defense missiles. Kaczynski said he planned to discuss the issue with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by telephone. The United States said last month that it wanted to build a missile defense system in eastern Europe. Both Warsaw and Prague have since said they were willing to start negotiations with Washington on hosting different components. Polish critics of the system fear it could make the country a target for terrorist attacks. Some have also voiced disappointment over the perceived lack of U.S. rewards for sending Polish troops to Iraq, leading to skepticism about the benefits of the missile defense plan. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also warned that Moscow could take retaliatory measures if Washington goes ahead with the plan. Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the Russian military's General Staff, said Thursday that Moscow may unilaterally drop out of a key Soviet-era arms reduction treaty with the U.S. that banned medium-range nuclear missiles, Russian news agencies reported. Putin said Saturday that the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, negotiated between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Reagan in 1987, was outdated. The U.S. says its missile defense system would not be aimed at Russia but at threats from the Middle East such as Iran.

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