US, Poland sign deal on troops, missiles despite Russia concerns
Poland and the US signed a deal that paves the way for the stationing of U.S. troops on the territory of its east European NATO ally.
Poland and the United States signed a deal on Friday that paves the way for the stationing of U.S. troops on the territory of its east European NATO ally.
The "status of forces" accord (SOFA), a technical document tentatively approved in November after 15 months of talks, also makes possible deployments of a U.S. Patriot missile battery in Poland next year as part of plans to upgrade its air defences.
Russia sees such move as a thrat for Europe's security.
"This agreement is a good basis for cooperation between the U.S. and Polish armed forces in the future," Polish Defence Minister Bogdan Klich told reporters at the signing ceremony.
"For Poland, this signifies a strengthening of our national security."
Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski noted that the SOFA deal was concluded just a week after Poland agreed to send 600 more troops to join its 2,000-strong contingent in Afghanistan after President Barack Obama's appeal to NATO allies for more help.
"This (deal) is a kind of symbol because in the past there were forces which were not welcome, stationed on Polish soil without our invitation. I'm talking about Germans or Russians," military analyst Roman Kuzniar told Reuters Television, referring to World War Two and postwar Soviet domination.
Ellen Tauscher, U.S. under-secretary of state for arms control and international security, said Washington hoped to send U.S. forces to Poland as soon as it could, but gave no date.
The Patriot deal struck last year between Warsaw and the previous Bush administration and now backed by Obama envisages an armed Patriot battery being sent to Poland from Germany several times each year until 2012.
Polish officials say a battery would be permanently based in Poland from 2012 and that Warsaw would also aim to buy its own anti-missile systems.
Reuters Last Mod: 12 Aralık 2009, 12:05