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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » February 6, 2008
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Sikorski's U.S. Visit Angers Russia
February 6, 2008   
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"Poland has received U.S. promises of assistance in modernizing its armed forces. This brings the two countries closer to an agreement on deploying the U.S. anti-missile shield on Polish soil," said Poland's Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski Feb. 1 after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Whether the U.S. has acceded to what the Polish government was demanding as a precondition to having missiles located on its territory is not yet clear. The government has said that Poland will need U.S. Patriot or THAAD missiles to strengthen its air defense system if it is going to counter the security risks from having parts of the shield within its borders. Russia has already threatened to aim missiles at Poland if the deal goes ahead.

Another issue awaiting clarification is whether the Bush administration will agree to a Polish proposal to sign a bilateral treaty similar to those the U.S. has with other allies. Rice was evasive when questioned and merely said that Poland already had strong security guarantees by dint of its NATO membership.

At Rice and Sikorski's joint press conference, journalists were informed that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk would be visiting the United States in early March. This will be Tusk's first visit to America as head of Polish government. Sikorski had earlier met with Vice-President Dick Cheney and Bush's national security advisor Stephen Hadley. Polish operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were also discussed.

The minister's Washington talks drew a sharp response from Moscow. On Feb. 3 Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's permanent representative to NATO, warned Poland against having parts of the U.S. shield on its territory. He added that he had expected a lot more from Tusk's government. "We took the new Polish prime minister at his word when he said the matter would be decided by means of dialogue with Washington, Brussels and Moscow. It is now clear that the dialogue with Moscow has ended before it even began," Rogozin said.
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