May 26, 2007 / 9:33 PM / 10 years ago

Czech demonstrators protest missile shield plans

<p>Demonstrators hold up signs during a protest rally in central Prague, May 26, 2007. The rally was held to protest against plans to deploy a U.S. missile defense radar system in the Czech Republic and to demand a referendum on the issue.Petr Josek</p>

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Two thousand demonstrators marched through Prague on Saturday to protest against a plan to host part of a U.S. missile defense system.

The demonstration came less than two weeks before President George W. Bush arrives in the Czech Republic to drum up support for the missile shield.

The United States wants to place 10 interceptor rockets in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic as part of a system Washington says is aimed at "rogue states" like Iran and North Korea.

Waving banners and placards denouncing the plan, which the Czech and U.S. governments are currently negotiating, the peaceful demonstration snaked through the centre of the city before ending at Prague Castle.

Bush plans to visit Prague on June 4-5 in support of the missile defense shield, which is opposed by around two-thirds of Czechs, according to opinion polls, but supported by the centre-right Czech government.

"It just doesn't make any sense," said 34-year-old Jan Cerny, who was carrying a poster with "We Don't Want the Radar Here" written on it.

The missile defense proposal has also angered Moscow, which says it is aimed at Russia and could eventually house attack missiles or be used to spy on Russian facilities. Washington denies this.

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