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US radar base talks with Czech Republic prolonged

History

Negotiations between the Czech Republic and the United States on the stationing of a controversial radar base on Czech soil would probably last until February, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said in an interview released Monday.

The stationing of the base, which is part of the US missile defense shield in eastern Europe, was a complicated issue and negotiations might last until February, Schwarzenberg said in an interview published by the Slovak daily Sme in Bratislava, the Slovak capital. "We need to sign four agreements, and then we will submit two of them to the parliament for approval," Schwarzenberg said.

Czech and US representatives were to start another round of talks on a bilateral treaty Tuesday to specify a legal framework for the US soldiers' stay at the planned base, which is earmarked for the Brdy military grounds some 90 kilometer southwest of Prague.

In March, the Czech government decided to start formal talks with the United States on the radar base. Regarding Russia's opposition to the project, Schwarzenberg said the radar base is only a pawn on a chessboard in a Moscow-Washington power game, which also involves Kosovo and Iran among other issues. Although the Czech government is actively seeking the establishment of the radar base, a recent opinion poll showed most Czechs opposed it.

Washington proposed to start negotiations on the base in the Czech Republic and a missile interceptor base in Poland early this year. It reiterates the defense shield is merely designed to protect against potential missile threats from Iran. But Russia fears the deployment at its backyard is aimed at reducing Moscow's missile deterrence. (xinhua)

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