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U.S. army tenders open to Czech bidders under new deal

Brussels, April 18 (CTK) - U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Czech Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra signed a bilateral agreement thanks to which Czech companies can take part in U.S. military tenders at the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels yesterday.

Vondra said Czech companies now can participate in U.S. army tenders without any mediators.

Vondra said this agreement is the biggest achievement in relations between the United States and the Czech Republic of the past year.

Until now, Czech arms makers could only be subcontractors of U.S. firms that had to be preferred under U.S. legislation.

The agreement concerns not only the military but also security and rescue forces.

Vondra recalled that Poland and the Czech Republic would be the first countries from Central and Eastern Europe that would have the same position like Britain, Germany or Israel.

Poland signed such an agreement with the United States last September.

Vondra said the Czech state-run LOM company that specialises in repairs and servicing of Russian-made Mi helicopters is one of the firms that might use the new opportunity.

LOM has recently won a contract for training U.S. and Afghan helicopter pilots before their deployment in Afghanistan, but it had to use several mediators to be able to apply for the contract.

Vondra said Czech arms makers and firms developing new technologies like IT and nanomaterials are among those that can profit from the new Czech-U.S. agreement.

He said negotiations about the agreement lasted several years.

Vondra met Panneta in Washington in January. He said then the agreement would be signed in the spring.

On Thursday, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton will meet. They are to talk about the planned extension of the Czech nuclear power plant Temelin, where Westinghouse, an American firm, is one of the three bidders.

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