US to Sign Missile Defense Deal with Czech RepublicBy VOA News
07 July 2008

Condoleezza RiceU.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice begins a four-day trip to Europe Monday aimed in part at closing a deal with the Czech Republic to deploy part of a controversial missile defense system on Czech soil.

U.S. plans to place radar in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland are strongly opposed by Russia, which regards the deployment as a security threat.

Ahead of her trip, Rice is to meet in Washington Monday with Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, as both governments seek to reach a final agreement on the missile deployment.

U.S. officials have sought to assure Moscow that the system is aimed at countering a possible missile threat from Iran and does not target Russia in any way.

Secretary Rice will also stop in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, and visit Bulgaria's capital Sofia. Bulgaria plans to award her the country's highest honor for helping to free five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor from Libyan custody last year.

Libya sentenced the medics to death, accusing them of deliberately injecting children with the AIDS virus. They denied the charge and were later freed under a deal brokered, in part, by France.

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