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Czech gov't approves SOFA treaty related to U.S. radar base 2008-09-11 05:43:35  

    PRAGUE, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) --

The Czech government approved the SOFA treaty (Status of Forces Agreement) that specifies the legal framework of U.S. personnel at the planned radar base on Czech soil, the cabinet said on its website on Wednesday.

    The Czech Republic and the United States have agreed on the final text of the treaty last Friday.

    The treaty will be signed by signed by Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanova and her U.S. counterpart Robert Gates during an informal meeting of NATO defense ministers in London on September 19, the Czech news agency CTK said.

    "The Czech side has pushed it through that the document will only relate to the U.S. personnel who will be connected with the radar base," Parkanova said.

    "The application of the treaty on other cases of the stay of U.S. armed forces is only possible upon a consent of the Czech Republic that would be expressed in harmony with the constitution," she added.

    The U.S. military and civilian personnel at the planned U.S. base will be within the jurisdiction of Czech courts with two exceptions.

    The exceptions refer to the criminal acts committed by Americans while on duty and their criminal acts against the security and property of the United States or any other U.S. personnel at the base.

    The Czech Republic has kept full sovereignty and ownership right to the area and any property whose use was allowed to the U.S. armed forces, according to the government.

    The area of the radar station will be still the Czech Republic's territory and all the property that will be built there by U.S. armed forces will become the Czech Republic's ownership upon completion, it added.

    The two sides eventually reached a compromise on tax issues, which was the stumbling block for a long time during the whole process of the Czech-U.S. negotiation, the government said on the website.

    The tax exemption will only apply in a limited fashion to the U.S. firms and their employees who pay a similar tax in the U.S.. Other suppliers and their staff will be subjected to the Czech legislation, the government said.

    The Czech Republic will be responsible for external security of the base, the U.S. for internal.

    The treaty determines that all U.S. personnel will be equipped with special IDs issued by the Czech authorities.

    The United States plans to build a radar base in the Czech Republic, along with an interceptor missile base in Poland, as part of its East European missile defense shield.

    The main treaty on the radar base was signed by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg in early July.

    Russia is strongly opposed to the deployment of the system, saying it poses a threat to its national security. Czech opposition parties and some 70 percent of the country's citizens also oppose the project.

    The radar treaties are yet to be ratified by the Czech parliament. It is not clear whether the government will muster enough votes for the treaty's ratification in parliament.

Editor: Yan

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