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    Russia wants presence at Czech missile defense sites - Lavrov

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    Russia's foreign minister said on Monday that the country will only lift its objections to a U.S. anti-missile radar in the Czech Republic if Russian observers are permanently posted at the facilities.

    YEREVAN, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister said on Monday that the country will only lift its objections to a U.S. anti-missile radar in the Czech Republic if Russian observers are permanently posted at the facilities.

    "A one-off visit would not change anything, but only increase our suspicions," Sergei Lavrov told journalists.

    The agreement to station a U.S. tracking radar in the Czech Republic was signed on July 8 by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.

    On September 19, Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanova and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates signed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The pact governs the deployment of U.S. military personnel at the radar station.

    The radar is part of a planned missile shield system which would also include the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland. The U.S. says it needs the Central European shield to protect against attacks by "rogue states" such as Iran.

    The plans are fiercely opposed by Russia, which sees the missile shield as a threat to its national security and the international system of nuclear deterrence.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has vowed to "respond appropriately" to the deployment of the missile shield.

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