US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has arrived in Prague to sign a controversial missile defence agreement with the Czech Republic.
The NATO-endorsed plan will finalise the details for setting up a radar base on Czech soil – but more than two thirds of the public oppose it and it faces a rough ride through parliament.
Opponents, who want the government to hold back on ratification until after the upcoming US presidential election, plan to protest in Prague’s Wenceslas Square later today.
The US wants to install the tracking radar in the Czech Republic along with 10 interceptor rockets in Poland to shield itself and its allies from attack by what Washington refers to as “rogue” states -including Iran.
The Czech deal to house the radar base was concluded in April, but negotiations with Poland are currently deadlocked.
Warsaw has been lobbying Washington to provide a Patriot-type air defence system in exchange for approval.
Neighbouring Lithuania has offered to host the bases if talks with Warsaw fall through.