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11 Sep, 2008 03:31

Russia - Poland talks focus on missile shield wrangle

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov travelled to Warsaw on Thursday for talks with his Polish counterpart Radoslaw Sikorsky and the country's Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Polish participation in U.S. plans to build an Eastern European missile shield do

The United States wants to place ten interceptor rockets in Poland, and a corresponding radar station in the neighbouring Czech Republic.

Polish participation is vital to the proposal's viability. Neither Poland’s President nor Parliament have yet given their consent to the plans.

Russia strongly opposes the project and sees the anti-missile system as a threat to its national and border security.

The Russian Foreign Minister said at the meeting that Russia's position on the U.S. missile shield “has not changed and will not change, but we see no direct threat from Poland”. He also said he was grateful to his Polish counterpart for attempting to “reassure” Russia.

“Until recently the balance of arms has been regulated by international treaties. But this balance is being violated. The U.S. … is installing its strategic systems in many regions of the world. And this we cannot ignore,” said Lavrov.

On Tuesday U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg signed the Status of Forces Agreement, the final hurdle before the Czech Parliament approves the treaty.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia were also discussed at the meeting. Poland has expressed support for the Georgian government and condemned what it called “Russian aggression” in the Caucasus.  Polish Foreign Minister Sikorsky said Poland will do its best to play a key role in achieving security and stability in the Caucasus, and will continue dialogue with both Russia and Georgia.