23:53 GMT01 April 2020
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    Poland will not agree to the permanent presence of Russian military observers at a proposed U.S. missile base on its territory, the foreign minister said on Wednesday.

    MOSCOW, April 2 (RIA Novosti) - Poland will not agree to the permanent presence of Russian military observers at a proposed U.S. missile base on its territory, the foreign minister said on Wednesday.

    The idea of allowing Russians to monitor proposed U.S. missile defense bases in Central Europe was one of the proposals put forward by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates during their talks in Moscow on March 18 with Russia's Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

    "We will not allow the permanent presence of Russian military officers at a U.S. missile base [in Poland], but they will be able to conduct temporary inspections and monitoring," Radoslaw Sikorski said in an interview with the Polish Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper.

    The minister reiterated that Poland has not yet decided whether to allow the placement of a U.S. missile interceptor base on its territory, despite rumors circulated in Polish media.

    "We are ready to expedite this process, but only after reaching a consensus [with the U.S.] on some conditions that I am not going to divulge," he said.

    The George W. Bush administration earlier said it backed Warsaw's request for aid in modernizing its missile defenses.

    The U.S. plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic citing a threat from Iran and other "rogue states," while Russia views these plans as a destabilizing factor for Europe and a threat to its national security.

    Poland's new government led by Donald Tusk, which came to power in November last year, has taken a more cautious approach to the U.S. proposal than former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's cabinet, which fully supported the plan.

    Sikorski said Poland will not share the cost of the construction of a missile base with the U.S.

    In his 2009 budget proposal, President Bush requested $96 million for the development of missile shield elements, $382.6 million for the actual deployment of the complexes in Poland and the Czech Republic, and $241.2 million for construction works.

    However, U.S. Congress said it would not allow the Bush administration to spend the allocated budget for the construction of the missile defense infrastructure in Poland and the Czech Republic in 2008, unless Washington signed bilateral agreements with these countries.

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