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Missile Shield Talks Start
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Poland and the United States opened talks Thursday about a plan to build a US missile shield, with Polish officials saying they would seek favorable terms for hosting part of the project.

US Assistant Secretary of State John Rood arrived for talks in Warsaw to discuss placing 10 interceptor rockets in Poland aimed at protecting against missile attacks from what Washington calls rogue states such as Iran or North Korea.

The plan has drawn strong criticism from Russia, which sees it as a threat to its national security. Russia has rejected offers to cooperate with the US on the project and threatened to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the United States and the Soviet Union.

"It won't lead to anything but a new spiral in the arms race," Russian President Vladmir Putin said in Vienna. "We consider this totally counterproductive and are trying to demonstrate this to our partners."

Poland's leaders Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the prime minister and his twin brother Lech, the president are in favor of hosting the rockets but want assurances from the US about a strategic political and military partnership and aid for the Polish army.

Defense Minister Aleksander Szczyglo told Polish television TVN24 that the outcome of the talks was still open and that NATO member Poland would seek tough conditions.

"Our American friends ought to remember that we are still negotiating and we will not make any commitments before certain issues are clarified," he said, without giving further details.

The chief of Poland's National Security Bureau, Wladyslaw Stasiak echoed these views saying: "We are counting on more concrete offers from the US side now but it has to be clear that the outcome is open and nothing is decided so far".

"Poland is interested in a wider strategic cooperation with the United States," he added.

(China Daily via agencies May 25, 2007)

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