Poles swing to support US missile shield

19th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

A new poll shows a shift in attitude after Russian military intervention in Georgia.

Warsaw -- Poles narrowly support basing US missile interceptors on their soil, a poll said Monday, suggesting a swing in public opinion after Russia's military intervention in Georgia.

US and Polish diplomats sealed the anti-missile agreement last week. Under the deal, Poland is to get Patriot air defense missiles and a special pledge of US military cooperation in case of threats against Poland.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are to sign the deal Wednesday in Warsaw.

The poll for Rzeczpospolita daily newspaper taken Saturday, showed 58 percent of Poles support the Pentagon's plan of basing 10 missile interceptors in Poland, while 46 percent took a negative view.

The poll said 45 percent expect Poland's security to be stronger with the missile shield and 30 percent believed it would weaken.

Surveys previously showed a majority of Poles opposed to hosting the interceptors, part of a planned Pentagon system that also includes a tracking radar in the Czech Republic.

In early July, a similar poll found 53 percent of Poles opposed to the missile shield.

The latest survey was based on 500 people interviewed by GfK Polonia pollsters. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Sikorski told the Dziennik daily that he and Rice would sign the missile shield accord on Wednesday. The Czech government agreed in July to provide the site for a tracking radar.

Parliamentary approval is required in both countries.

The US says the system, designed to destroy incoming ballistic missiles in space, is meant to defend against growing missile threats from nations like Iran and North Korea.

Russia vehemently opposes the shield, saying it's aimed against Moscow's arsenal of strategic nuclear missiles -- a charge the US denies.

Rice will travel to Moscow after a US-requested emergency meeting of NATO nations in Brussels to discuss the alliance's reaction to Russia's military intervention in Georgia.

The US-Polish deal "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," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.


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