Poland Confirms 'Serious Chance' Obama to Drop Missile Shield Plans

According to Wall Street Journal, Obama will shelve Bush's plans in order to ease tension with Russia.

Polish and U.S. officials held talks on U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in Warsaw on Thursday, a Polish deputy foreign minister told Reuters.

"The meeting with [U.S. Deputy Secretary of State] Ellen Tauscher and other U.S. officials has just ended. A statement will be issued shortly," Andrzej Kremer said.

Earlier, Kremer said Poland saw a "serious chance" that the United States would shelve plans to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic a missile defense system strongly opposed by Russia.

"We know the review of the missile shield is not yet over and in ten days Deputy Defense Minister Stanislaw Komorowski and myself are going to Washington to find out. From different sources we hear there are serious chances the shield won't be deployed here," Kremer, Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for the project told Reuters.

The Wall Street Journal on Thursday cited current and former U.S. officials as saying the White House would shelve the Bush administration plans to build a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

A spokesman for the the Czech prime minister said U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned the premier on Wednesday evening to discuss the missile defence shield.

"I can confirm there was a telephone conversation concerning this topic [with Prime Minister Jan Fischer]," the spokesman said.

The apparent decision, likely to help ease tensions with Russia which has opposed the missile shield plans, will be based on a U.S. "determination that Iran's long-range missile program has not progressed as rapidly as previously estimated, reducing the threat to the continental U.S. and major European capitals," the paper said.

In March, United States President Barack Obama dismissed as inaccurate a New York Times report claiming he had offered to scrap the plans if Russia works to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

"The New York Times didn't accurately characterize the letter," Obama said following that report. "What I said in the letter [To Russian President Medvedev] is the same thing that I've said publicly, which is that the missile defense that we have talked about deploying is directed towards not Russia, but Iran."

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last year called Russia's negative reaction to the U.S.-Polish missile shield agreement "borders on the bizarre," but denied Washington wanted a confrontation with Moscow.

Since the end of the Cold War, the West had tried to encourage closer cooperation, including on such issues as the Middle East, nuclear non-proliferation and the Iranian nuclear program, Rice said.