Source AP ©

American experts examine site of would-be missile defense base

A group of U.S. experts came to the Czech Republic on Monday to examine a military site where Washington would like to set up a missile defense base.

A 38-member group from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency will carry out hydrological and geological measurements and will examine the infrastructure in the Brdy military area, the ministry said.

The U.S. made a formal request in January to put a radar base at the site southwest of Prague as part of plans for a missile defense system that Washington says would protect Europe in coming years against possible long-range air strikes from Iran.

As part of the system, Washington also hopes to place 10 interceptors in neighboring Poland.

The U.S. plans, however, have raised concerns throughout much of Europe that placing bases in former Warsaw Pact countries could spark a new arms race with a resurgent Russia. Moscow has strongly opposed the plans.

A first round of talks between Czech and U.S. officials took place late last week, while formal talks with Poland opened in Warsaw on Monday.

U.S. President George W. Bush is also due to visit Poland and the Czech Republic in June as the U.S. tries to push its plan.

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