June 27, 2007 / 8:43 AM / 11 years ago

Poland expects U.S. missile shield deal by October

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland expects to sign an agreement with the United States by October to allow parts of a U.S. anti-missile shield to be built on Polish soil, a Polish official was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, visiting Washington to negotiate terms for hosting parts of the installation, told the Gazeta Wyborcza daily that a deal should be signed in September or October.

“If the Americans want to start building the shield next year, then we must agree in 2007,” Waszczykowski was quoted as saying, adding the deal should strengthen Poland’s security.

“It could be a declaration as to how the Americans will react if a problem occurs in this part of Europe ... We are also talking about agreements which could strengthen some guarantees offered by NATO.”

Warsaw has been lobbying for a political and security pact between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) states as a main condition for hosting the missile interceptor site.

The plan to place interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic has led to a row with Russia. President Vladimir Putin has threatened to aim missiles at targets in Europe if the United States goes ahead with its plan.

Washington says its installation will guard against attacks from “rogue states” such as North Korea or Iran. But Moscow says the scheme will upset the post-Cold War strategic balance and is really aimed at its military capability.

Waszczykowski said Russian threats would not hinder talks.

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