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Poland Calls US Pressure Over Missile Shield a Negotiating Tactic

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Tuesday that pressure from Washington over the stationing of US anti-ballistic missiles on Polish soil was a pure negotiating tactic.

Donald Tusk

Tusk is hoping to break an impasse in talks with the US

"Unofficial and informal mutterings" were more "an element of the negotiations than a serious standpoint," Tusk was quoted by the Polish Press Agency as saying in Warsaw.

Washington was pushing for an end to the political negotiations by mid-July, Gazeta Wyborcza reported Tuesday.

Warsaw should send a signal before the summer holidays that the missile-defence shield would be set up in Poland, the newspaper report said, citing sources close to the negotiations.

If Poland wasn't prepared to host the missiles, the United States would have to find another location for them, the report said.

The Polish standpoint remained unchanged, Tusk said ahead of a trip to Latin America.

"If conditions arise that correspond to the needs of the Polish Army, then there will also be a missile shield," Tusk said.

Currently the US proposals were under the threshold that Poland would consider satisfactory, Tusk said.

Four groups of Polish and US officials were convened one week ago to look into matters such as the equipment needs of the Polish Army.

At the beginning of the year, the US Congress approved $27 million (17.5 million euros) for Poland, and US President George W Bush recently announced a further $20 million.

The US would like to station 10 anti-ballistic missiles in Poland and set up a radar station in the Czech Republic to prevent attacks from what Washington calls "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea.

Warsaw has made its cooperation in the project contingent on military assistance from the US, primarily in the modernization of its air defences.

Poland estimates that it needs some $20 million to upgrade its military equipment.

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