Big Week for Missile Defense

WARSAW -- Poland's defense minister said Tuesday that high-level talks with Washington this week would be crucial in determining whether his country would allow the United States to set up a missile defense base on its territory.

Bogdan Klich said on state radio 3 that experts would discuss the plan on Wednesday, and high-level political negotiations would take place on Friday. Both meetings will be held in Warsaw.

"You can count on this week being key for the outcome of our talks," Klich said. "The Americans know what our expectations are."

Poland is demanding U.S. help in upgrading its military in exchange for agreeing to locate 10 missile interceptors in the country. The U.S. program also foresees placing a radar system in the neighboring Czech Republic. Washington says the system is necessary to protect its European allies from possible future attacks from Iran.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is to conclude a deal on the radar system in a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday in Washington and has said he believes all necessary treaties could be completed by the end of the week.

The Czech and Polish parliaments will then have to ratify the deals. Topolanek has said the Czech Republic would only give its approval after the Poles reach an agreement with the U.S.

In return for its agreement, the Czech Republic wants access to U.S. military research and development.