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Europe wants NATO missile defense system complementary to U.S. system 2007-04-19 22:54:30
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    BRUSSELS, April 19 (Xinhua) -- NATO's European allies are calling for a NATO missile defense system which would complement the American shield to protect Europe from missile attacks, NATO's spokesman said Thursday.

    NATO's decision-making North Atlantic Council has just held consultations on missile defense in the first meeting on the topic at such a senior level.

    The meeting also involved political directors and technological experts on missile defense from NATO member states.

    Spokesman James Appathurai said European allies had agreed that there remains a missile threat to Europe.

    Lt Gen. Henry A. Obering, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, with two other U.S. officials, briefed the council on U.S. deliberations over missile defense and their implications for European security.

    The United States is negotiating with Poland and the Czech Republic for the deployment of interceptor missiles and a radar tracking system in the two countries.

    The Polish and Czech leaders have indicated that they would allow the deployment, although the U.S. plan has met strong opposition from Moscow.

    A NATO official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the American site in Eastern Europe would be capable of covering most of Europe except part of Romania plus Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.

    The "blind spots" could be covered by plugging in NATO's Theater Missile Defense (TMD) system that is under development, said the official.

    The NATO TMD is expected to have initial capability by 2010/11 and full operational capability by 2015.

    The official said the European allies seemed to be convinced by the Americans that such an arrangement is good for Europe, as the costs are lower than a separate NATO missile shield. None of them spoke against the American proposals.

    The Americans briefed their European colleagues on three models of missile defense coverage: coverage by the existing American system; coverage after the sites in Poland and the Czech Republic become operational; and coverage of a system complemented by NATO's own missile defense system, Appathurai said.

    NATO Thursday afternoon will also hold discussions with Russia on the missile defense issue within the framework of the NATO-Russia Council.

    European allies have urged transparency in the American plans when they are shown to the Russians, but they insisted that Moscow should not be given the veto power, said an official who would not be named.

    The United States has offered cooperation with Russia on early-warning data, inter-operability of TMD systems and joint exercises, the NATO official said. But Russia has yet to respond.

    There is a consensus among NATO member states that a NATO missile defense system should not pose a threat to Russia, Appathurai said.

    Missile defense will be a major topic at an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo, Norway, next week.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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