Biden Announces Cooperation from Czech Republic on Missile Defense

Oct 23, 2009 11:35am

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: In Prague today, Vice President Joe Biden said that the Czech Republic will play a role in the new missile defense system in Eastern Europe. Standing with Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, Biden said a “high-level defense team” will travel to Prague in early November to discuss the new system. “The new missile defense program is designed to meet existing threats in Europe with proven technology that will cover more of Europe, including the Czech Republic, more effectively than the previous system could have done,” Biden said. “It also strengthens NATO's defenses against future, more advanced missile threats.” On Wednesday, Biden met with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who said his country also would participate in a revamped U.S. missile defense system in eastern Europe. “We appreciate Poland has stepped up and agreed to host an element of the previous missile defense plan,” the vice president said. “Poland considers the new configuration for the missile shield as very interesting, necessary, and we are ready at the appropriate level to participate," Tusk said at the news conference with Biden. Biden’s three-day trip to Eastern Europe appeared to be aimed at smoothing over relations with U.S. allies there after the Obama administration's announcement that it would abandon existing plans for a missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic. The White House announced last month that it was switching gears and instead of the land-based system developed by the Bush administration, it would pursue a sea-based system to target short and medium range missiles aimed at Europe. The announcement caught the central European allies off guard and was met with great concern by leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic. Biden's trip is the first visit by a high-level U.S. official to the region since the announcement and today he touted the revamped system as the best way “to defend against the emerging ballistic missile threats.” — Karen Travers

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