Czech, US sign deal in defense

Officials say the Czech and the U.S. defense ministers have signed a deal that makes it possible for companies to directly supply weapons to the American military.

The ministry says the deal known as the Reciprocal Procurement of Defense Equipment and Services Agreement was signed by Czech Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday during a NATO meeting in Brussels.

The agreement allows Czech weapons makers to directly participate in public tenders by the U.S. Defense Department. So far, Czech firms could only become subcontractors for U.S. companies.

Vondra said the deal is of "key significance" for the Czech defense industry.