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Poland and Czech Republic close to signing US missile defense deal

Poland's deputy prime minister says that differences remain in the Polish and U.S. approaches to an agreement on placing a U.S. missile defense base here.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk held a 40-minute telephone conversation with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney late Thursday about the U.S. proposal to place 10 missile interceptors in northern Poland.

Deputy Prime Minister Grzegorz Schetyna told state television early Friday that the two leaders' talk "did not decide anything" but "exposed differences in approach on both sides, including Poland's expectations."

Schetyna said Poland must make the decision "soon" and "we are getting closer to it."

In the meantime, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg says that his government will sign a deal with the United States next week on installing a U.S. missile defense radar.

Schwarzenberg said Friday during a visit to the ex-Soviet nation of Azerbaijan that the deal will be signed in Prague on July 8 or 9.

The United States has negotiated a deal to install a radar in the Czech Republic as part of the planned missile defense system. U.S. officials also have agreed on the framework of a deal to place 10 missile interceptors in Poland, but Polish officials say they have not made the final decision yet.

Russia has strongly opposed the plans, saying it would threaten its security.