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U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is set to visit Warsaw
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is set to visit Warsaw on Monday to sign a deal on the deployment of elements of a U.S. missile shield in Poland.

Her trip to the Polish capital will come after a visit to Brussels, Belgium, for an emergency session of the NATO Council "to discuss the situation in Georgia and its implications for the region," a U.S. State Department statement read.

Rice also plans to meet in Brussels with EU leaders, including French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, European Union High Representative Javier Solana, and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Fererro-Waldner. France currently holds the EU rotating presidency.

"In Warsaw, Secretary Rice will sign a formal agreement with Poland on behalf of the United States for the establishment and operation of a ballistic missile defense interceptor site in Poland. This agreement is an important step in our efforts to protect the United States and our European allies from the growing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles," the statement also read.

The deal to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland was reached last Thursday, and followed the signing of an agreement on July 8 by the U.S. and Czech foreign ministries to place a U.S. radar in the Czech Republic.

Moscow has consistently expressed its opposition to the U.S. missile shield, saying it threatens its national security. The U.S. claims the shield is designed to thwart missile attacks by what it calls "rogue states," including Iran.

However, speaking in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said again that Moscow had no doubt that the missile shield was aimed against Russia.

"The deployment of new missile-defense elements in Europe has the Russian Federation as its aim," Medvedev said.

Announcing the deal, which was reached after months of protracted talks, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in televised remarks that "events in the Caucasus show clearly that such security guarantees are indispensable."

A top Russian military official subsequently said that by signing the deal Poland was leaving itself open to a military strike, including a nuclear attack.

The U.S. has denied however that the announcement of the deal was linked to the recent armed conflict in Georgia, which began on August 8 when Georgian forces attacked the capital of breakaway South Ossetia.

During the subsequent Russian military operation to force Georgian troops out of the de facto independent republic and to reinforce its peacekeepers, Moscow deployed some 10,000 servicemen and several hundred armored vehicles in the region.

The U.S. criticized Russia's response, calling it "disproportionate."

A French-brokered peace plan was signed by Medvedev in Moscow on Saturday, a day after being signed in Tbilisi by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.


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