Top officials' positions on possible stationing of US troops differ

Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the junior coalition partner, the Freedom Union Petr Mares said on Sunday that he would on principle approve of possible stationing of US army units in the Czech Republic. Speaking in a televised debate Mr Mares said he would not object to stationing allied units on Czech territory if it were in harmony with the Czech Republic's commitments as a NATO member and if it improved the country's defence ability. According to speculation, the United States is considering moving its troops from Germany eastwards. While the possibility of the deployment of US troops is accepted positively in Poland, Czech politicians' positions on the issue differ.

President Vaclav Klaus has adopted a reserved stance and pointed to a parallel with the presence of the Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia after it was occupied by the former Warsaw pact armies in 1968. Reacting to President Klaus's statement Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said that American troops could be stationed in the Czech Republic.