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Czech Republic, US agree on half of draft radar agreement

Czech and US negotiators have agreed on about half of the points in the draft bilateral agreement on the possible installation of a US defense radar base on Czech territory, the Czech news agency CTK reported on Wednesday.

Pojar, head of the Czech group of negotiators, and the chief US negotiator, Department of State high-ranking official John Rood, agreed that the negotiations have significantly progressed, according to the report. The negotiators discussed all 18 chapters in the draft agreement, reaching consensus on about half of them, Pojar said. The two parties agreed that the Czech military, along with the United States, will have access to the information provided by the radar, Pojar said. The talks focused on the draft agreement of the radar project, which Prague completed as its counter-proposal to Washington's draft, submitted in April.

Agreement on about another half of the draft text still has to be reached. This may take several more months, he said. We did not discuss some parts because we did not reach consensus on whether they should feature here or in the SOFA agreement on the (US) forces status (in the Czech Republic). We insist they should feature here, while the United States believes they should feature in the latter document," Pojar said. He said this is the core of several controversies. Prague and Washington will negotiate the SOFA agreement next week. The guarantor of the negotiations will be the defense ministry, said Pojar. The two agreements about the anti-missile radar base the United States wants to build near Misov, in west Bohemia, are closely tied to each other.

"We closed some chapters quite smoothly. Although we proposed a number of changes in our position, some were smoothly accepted by the US," Pojar told reporters during the negotiations earlier Wednesday. Rood, US assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, said that there is still much work ahead. He voiced optimism, pointing to the goodwill of both negotiating parties and the progress already achieved. The United States unveiled its plan in January to place a radar system in the Czech Republic. The plan also proposes that 10 long-range interceptors capable of shooting down missiles be stationed in Poland. (