Poland and the United States signed an agreement on Saturday in Krakow to carry out a revised missile defence shield despite Russian objections.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton witnessed the signing of the pact, which allows the two nations to implement plans to station U.S. missile interceptors on Polish soil to defend against potential threats from Iran and elsewhere.
The amendment to the missile shield deal was signed by deputy Foreign Minister Jacek Najder and Lee Feinstein, the US ambassador in Poland. Clinton attended the signing along with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.
She was then to attend a conference on promoting "democracy" and "civil liberties" -- an issue she is stressing during a four-day trip to the former Soviet bloc nations of Ukraine, Poland, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia.
The orginal plan envisaged the installation of a powerful radar in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptors for long-range missiles in Poland.
But following Russian objections that its security was threatened, the Obama government modified the blueprint and opted for medium- and short-range missile interceptors in Poland.
The agreement was signed in the Polish city of Krakow in the presence of Clinton and her Polish counterpart Radoslaw Sikorski.
"The United States is deeply committed to Poland's security and sovereignty," Clinton told reporters at a joint news conference with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.
"Today, by signing an amendment to the ballistic missile defence agreement, we are reinforcing this commitment."
"When President Obama announced the new configuration of the system, we did say that we liked the new configuration better but I think you didn't believe us," he said. "I hope now that we have signed the annex, I hope you do believe us."
Clinton sought to counter Russian objections to the plan, which Moscow views as a threat to its own military arsenal.
"This is purely a defensive system. It is not directed at Russia. It does not threaten Russia. It is a defensive system to protect our friends and allies and our deployed forces," she said. She said that the missile system aimed at alleged threat from Iran.
The two countries also announced plans to cooperate on the exploitation of shale gas at the news conference.
Clinton began her day by laying a wreath at a memorial to pay tribute to the victims of an April 10 plane crash in Russia that killed 96 people including President Lech Kaczynski, Poland's top military commanders and central bank governor.
The group was planning to mark the 70th anniversary of the massacre of Polish officers by Soviet forces in Katyn forest during World War Two when their Tupolev plane crashed in thick fog near Smolensk airport in western Russia.
Poland on Sunday holds the final round of voting in a presidential election brought on by Kaczynski's death. The race pits his twin brother, conservative Jaroslaw Kaczynski, against Bronislaw Komorowski, the business-friendly acting president.
Clinton studiously avoided taking sides in the race and U.S. officials said she had no plans to meet Komorowski, who might be in Krakow in his capacity as acting president.
"Whichever candidate is chosen, the United States will continue to be your friend and partner," she said.
She was to end her visit to Krakow by giving a speech at the Community of Democracies, a 10-year-old inter-governmental group that aims to promote democracy and civil liberties.
AgenciesGüncelleme Tarihi: 03 Temmuz 2010, 17:46