Rice to sign Czech-US missile defence deal in July, says minister
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to arrive in Prague for the signing of a Czech-US deal on placing a missile defence radar on Czech soil in early July, according to press reports Thursday.
"She has confirmed to me that it will be in early July," CTK news agency quoted Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg as saying in reference to Rice during his US visit, dpa reported.
The minister, speaking to Czech reporters in Washington, declined to give an exact date, reports said.
Rice was initially expected in Prague in early May for the signing of the Czech-US diplomatic treaty, whose completion was announced at the Bucharest NATO summit in April. The visit was postponed, officially due to scheduling difficulties.
Czech and US negotiators have yet to complete a secondary treaty, the so-called Status of Forces Agreement, which defines rules for stationing US troops at the planned base in a military zone south-west of Prague.
The agreements require approval by parliament where the center-right government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek so far lacks support for the project.
Washington plans to accompany the tracking radar in the Czech Republic with 10 interceptor missiles in Poland, but the talks in Warsaw have lagged behind because of Polish demands for military aid.
The plan to deploy US bases in former Soviet satellites, now members of NATO and the European Union, has been vehemently opposed by Russia.