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US Defense Chief in Poland for Talks on Missile Shield


U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is in Warsaw for talks with leaders on U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Gates arrived Tuesday from Moscow, where he tried in a series of meetings Monday to soften Russian opposition to the plan.

Today, the U.S. defense secretary was holding talks with Polish President Lech Kaczynski and Defense Minister Aleksander Szczyglo - both of whom have voiced support for the so-called missile shield. However, no date has been set for the start of formal talks on the deployment.

The United States wants to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland, and missile tracking radar in the Czech Republic by 2012. Washington has said it wants to protect U.S. interests and its European allies from what it calls a serious missile threat from Iran.

In Moscow Monday, Gates invited Russia to become a partner in the U.S. missile shield plans. However, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov later called the U.S. plan "a seriously destabilizing factor" for his country.

Gates is set to discuss the deployment with German leaders Wednesday, before returning to Washington.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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