Washington - Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg expects the United States to pursue the planned missile defense system, which includes the Czech Republic, but may be delayed.
"I expect it will get postponed. And it might be five years," Karel Schwarzenberg said to journalists on board of a special government plane heading for Washington.
Karel Schwarzenberg is scheduled to meet the U.S. Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and Senator Carl Levin who chairs the Senate's armed services committee on Monday and his counterpart Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.
Schwarzenberg does not expect new information on the radar basef rom Hillary Clinton whom he had met at a time when she was the U.S. First Lady. More than anything else it would be only a matter of assurance the plan is to be carried out, said the FA minister.
The missile defense plan would deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic. Russia protested against the system arguing it would be directed against their defense system rather than that of Iran.
More tests to come
Schwarzenberg is adamant the U.S. will continue to develop the missile system. "More tests are coming, since they want to know if the system is proven and cost-effective," said Schwarzenberg. "They want to test how many rockets the interceptors can catch."
The aim of the state visit is to present the new U.S. administration with the Czech EU presidency's program and learn about Barack Obama's priorities.
Among the issues on the agenda of the state visit are the radar base in Brdy, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia and closing down the Guantanamo prison.
Good times ahead?
At a NATO security conference in Munich attended by global leaders and diplomats the U.S. vice-president Joe Biden said Saturday that there are other options to compromise on the issue of the antimissile system in eastern Europe.
"It is time to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should be working together with Russia," Mr. Biden said in his speech at the Munich conference.
Biden also said that that the United States would press ahead with plans to build a radar base in the Czech Republic, on the condition the technology proves to be cost effective and is proven to work.
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Sergei B. Ivanov commented Joe Biden's speech as "very positive," Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, in an interview for private TV Prima Czech environment minister and head of the Green Party Martin Bursík urged the Czech government to wait for Barack Obama to take a clearer stand on the matter before approving it in parliament.
The missile defense plan was approved by the Czech Senate towards the end of 2008. The system was supposed to be discussed this week by the chamber of deputies but the Green Party together with the opposition Social Democrats voted for the debate to be postponed.