by Staff Writers
Warsaw (AFP) May 13, 2008
Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Tuesday said Washington's offers to boost his nation's security in exchange for hosting a controversial US missile shield were unsatisfactory.
"Without a doubt, for the moment the American proposals do not reach the level that would be satisfactory for the Polish side," Tusk told reporters in Warsaw.
"Our position has not changed. There will be a missile shield once (our) conditions are satisfied," he said.
"The United States, our ally, is completely free to make decisions. We have the rights and we will exercise the right to formulate our own conditions, our expectations," Tusk said.
Last week Warsaw and Washington decided to set up four expert working groups to analyse the threats to Poland of agreeing to a US missile-silo base -- a plan which has enraged neighbouring Russia -- as well as how to share intelligence, modernise Poland's armed forces and finance the upgrade.
The groups are expected to submit their proposals by the end of July. In charge of talks for the US, Secretary of State Stephen Mull stressed Washington wants missile defence "to go ahead as soon as possible."
Separately, Poland's chief negotiator Witold Waszczykowski has said that "the time factor is secondary for us" compared to getting what Poland wants.
Washington began talks on the plan with Warsaw and Prague in May 2007. It wants to set up 10 interceptor missile silos in Poland and associated radar bases in the neighbouring Czech Republic by 2012-13. NATO endorsed the plan last month.
The US has already struck a deal with Prague to install the powerful tracking radar.
But worried by the risks of hosting the controversial missile shield, Warsaw wants more than the total 47 million dollars (30 million euros) offered by the US so far.
Poland is demanding a broad aid package to modernise the Polish armed forces, including US Patriot 3 or THAAD air-defence systems, as well as a bilateral security accord.
While the United States insists the shield is designed to ward off potential ballistic missile attacks by so-called "rogue" states, notably Iran, Russia has blasted it as a grave menace to its national security.
In a tone reminiscent of the Cold War-era, Moscow has threatened to point missiles at its former Soviet-era satellite nations Poland and the Czech Republic if they agree to the US shield.
After breaking free from the Soviet bloc in 1989, both countries are now staunch US allies. They joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.
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