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Missile Shield Focus Of U.S.-Czech Talks

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met the Czech Republic's foreign minister to discuss plans for the construction of missile defense facilities on Friday, just days before U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates pays a visit to Moscow.

Gates is expected to arrive Monday for talks on Washington's plans to build a missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Rice might visit Moscow for similar talks in May, Russian Security Council chief Igor Ivanov said earlier in the week.

Russia strongly opposes the U.S. missile defense plan.

Rice said Friday that the plans were under discussion in both NATO and Russia. "We all face common threats, and we need to prepare for those threats," she said.

The Czech Foreign Ministry announced Friday that Rice had told Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg that U.S. President George W. Bush planned to make a visit to the Czech Republic on June 4 and 5 as part of a European trip, during which he will attend a Group of Eight summit in Germany.

Rice called the Czech republic "a great ally" and welcomed their government's assistance to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We will talk about a great number of subjects today, including the 21st-century threats that we face not just in terrorism, but from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," Rice said before the meeting.

Schwarzenberg, making his first .official visit to Washington as foreign minister, recalled the U.S. role in liberating Europe in 1945 and saving his country from a "massacre" by the Nazis.

"It's 60 years ago or more, and now we have to confront the danger we have today," he said.

Schwarzenberg met on Thursday with U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

(The Moscow Times 23.iv.07)

 
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