PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech Republic on Wednesday completed the ratification of a defense treaty with the United States that deepens military cooperation and makes it easier to deploy U.S. troops in Czech territory.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s signature was the final step in the ratification process of the Defense Cooperation Agreement, which had been endorsed by both houses of Parliament in July and by President Petr Pavel on Aug 1.

The document sets a legal framework for possible deployment of U.S. troops in the country at a time of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Czech Defense Minister Jana Cernochova signed the treaty together with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Washington, D.C. on May 23. The U.S. has similar agreements with 24 other NATO members, including Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria that form the eastern flank of the alliance.

Any deployment of U.S. forces would still need approval by the Czech government and Parliament.

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