Lithuania open to US missile shield talks if Poland refuses

Polish chief negotiator Witold Waszczykowski told Reuters on Tuesday the United States was already in talks with Lithuania.

Lithuania open to US missile shield talks if Poland refuses

Lithuania has held no talks on hosting a U.S. missile shield, but would consider the idea if Washington's negotiations with Poland failed and the Americans suggested it, officials said on Wednesday.

Polish chief negotiator Witold Waszczykowski told Reuters on Tuesday the United States was already in talks with Lithuania.

"Only if no bilateral agreement was reached between Poland and the U.S. and an official proposal was sent to Lithuania would our country look at it with due attention and responsibility," Lithuania's Defence Ministry said.

It added in a statement that it supported the idea of a missile shield in Europe and was following the negotiations closely. It said it had been informed by U.S. representatives at a meeting in Vilnius in May about the course of the talks.

But it added: "Lithuania does not hold any talks with the U.S. on installation of elements of missile systems."

The United States said on Tuesday that only "general conversations" with the Lithuanians had taken place.

President George W. Bush's administration wants to install interceptor rockets in Poland and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic.

Russia is strongly opposed to the idea, seeing it as a threat to its own security.

Poland has set conditions for agreeing to base 10 U.S. interceptor rockets on its soil. It wants Washington to spend billions of dollars to upgrade Polish air defences after Russia said it would point missiles at Poland in case of deployment.

The United States has said it would seek another site for its European missile defence project if talks with Poland fail. Poland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania are members of NATO.

Reuters

Last Mod: 19 Haziran 2008, 12:46
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