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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » July 9, 2008
Politics
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Missile Shield Talks Continue
July 9, 2008   
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Poland's foreign minister, Radosław Sikorski, made a trip to Washington July 6-8 for last-ditch talks with U.S. officials on a plan to install parts of a U.S. anti-missile shield in Poland.

Despite a recent setback in the negotiations, officials in Washington and Warsaw are not ruling out that an agreement on deploying parts of the U.S. anti-missile shield in Poland could be signed during U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's planned visit to Poland July 10.

While in Washington, Sikorski planned to meet with Rice July 7 and talk with Republican presidential candidate John McCain. He also planned to talk over the phone with Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

According to media reports, it was almost certain that U.S. officials would come up with a new proposal for Poland with regard to the missile shield during Sikorski's visit to Washington.

On July 4 the Polish government decided the U.S. administration's latest offer of assistance in modernizing the Polish armed forces was "insufficient." Poland has made its consent to hosting a U.S. anti-missile defense system conditional on American military assistance. The U.S. administration expressed its disappointment with the refusal.

After a telephone conversation with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and other talks, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said July 4, "Our talks were inconclusive on the key issue-the need to strengthen Poland's security. In our talks with the United States on the anti-missile shield, we are waiting for the Americans to respond to our request for increased security for Poland."

The main bone of contention is apparently the Polish government's demand to have several Patriot missile system batteries deployed in Poland. Warsaw has been demanding that from the start of the negotiations. The Americans have apparently proposed that they could only station one such battery in Poland on a rotational basis.

"We appreciate [this offer] and want to take part in the global security system, including the security of the United States," said Tusk July 4, "but our primary concern is the security of Polish territory and Polish citizens."

Meanwhile, Polish President Lech Kaczyński has announced a plan to join the missile shield negotiations "actively." The president, like his brother Jarosław, leader of the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party, has shown himself to be an avid supporter of having the U.S. system deployed in Poland and has criticized the current government several times for its lack of flexibility in the negotiations, as he put it.
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