US to offer Poland military aid
George Bush says Warsaw will receive help as part of missile shield plan.
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2008 19:09 GMT
Donald Tusk, left, says Poland remains concerned about Russian threats to target Warsaw [AFP]
George Bush, the US president, has said the United States will offer aid to the Polish military as part of its plan to base a new missile shield system in the country.
The US leader, who held talks with Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, in Washington on Monday, said he recognised "the need for Polish forces to be modernised".
The two leaders said a final deal on the US shield, which will also be based in the Czech Republic, could still take months.
The US says the shield is to protect against states such as Iran and North Korea, but the move has angered Russia which sees the system as a threat.
Bush again played down Moscow's concerns about the missile shield, saying: "This system is not aimed at Russia. I will continue to work with President [Vladimir] Putin and give him those assurances as well."
Washington wants to put base 10 'interceptor' missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic as part of the system.
Polish concerns
The US and the Czech Republic are close to finalising an agreement, but the Polish government has taken a tougher stance in negotiations and many details remain to be settled.
Tusk said Poland was ready to co-operate on missile defence as part of a security effort that would include the upgrading of Polish forces.
"Before my watch is over, we will have come up with a modernisation plan that is concrete and tangible," Bush said, referring to the end of his period in office in January.
Polish officials have said they want to acquire air defences against short and medium-range missiles.
Negotiators have asked for Patriot 3 or THAAD missiles and have identified 17 areas of the Polish military that the US could help modernise.
The interceptors for the planned US shield are for protection against long-range missiles.
The Polish government says that the security backing is necessary because Russia has threatened to target Poland with nuclear missiles if it allows the interceptors to be based there.
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