Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rice to sign missile defense deal with Poland

WARSAW, Poland: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to sign a deal with Poland on Wednesday that will see a U.S. missile defense base built on the soil of the former Soviet satellite — a plan that has infuriated Moscow.

The deal to site 10 U.S. interceptor missiles at a base just 115 miles (180 kilometers) from Russia's westernmost frontier has further strained Moscow's ties with the West — already deeply troubled by Russia's conflict with Georgia, a former Soviet republic turned U.S. ally.

Rice and her Polish counterpart, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, are to sign the deal in the presence of both the Polish president and prime minister.

President Lech Kaczynski said Wednesday would be "an important day in our history."

The deal "strengthens Poland's position in the world," Kaczynski said in a televised address Tuesday evening. The country has in recent years joined the European Union and NATO.

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