Rice due in Warsaw to sign US missile shield deal

August 18th, 2008 - 2:55 pm ICT by IANS  

RIA Novosti
Washington, Aug 18 (RIA Novosti) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is set to visit Polish capital Warsaw Monday to sign a deal on the deployment of elements of a US missile shield in Poland. Her trip to Warsaw will come after a visit to Brussels for an emergency session of the NATO Council “to discuss the situation in Georgia and its implications for the region”, a US State Department statement said.

Rice also plans to meet in Brussels with EU leaders including French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, European Union High Representative Javier Solana and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Fererro-Waldner. France currently holds the EU rotating presidency.

“In Warsaw, Secretary Rice will sign a formal agreement with Poland on behalf of the US for the establishment and operation of a ballistic missile defence interceptor site in Poland. This agreement is an important step in our efforts to protect the US and our European allies from the growing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles,” the statement added.

The deal to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland was reached last Thursday.

Russia has consistently expressed its opposition to the US missile shield, saying it threatens its national security.

The US claims the shield is designed to thwart missile attacks by what it calls “rogue states”, including Iran.

Speaking in the Black Sea resort of Sochi Friday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reiterated that Moscow had no doubt that the missile shield was aimed at Russia.

“The deployment of new missile-defence elements in Europe has the Russian Federation as its aim,” Medvedev said.

Announcing the deal, which was reached after months of protracted talks, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in televised remarks that “events in the Caucasus show clearly that such security guarantees are indispensable”.

A Russian military official subsequently said by signing the deal Poland was leaving itself open to a military strike, including a nuclear attack.

The US has denied that the announcement of the deal was linked to the recent armed conflict in Georgia.
RIA Novosti

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