In Warsaw, Vice President Biden Welcomes Poland’s Cooperation on Missile Defense System

By Gorman Gorman

Oct 21, 2009 3:11pm

ABC News' Karen Travers reports:

In Warsaw today, Vice President Biden welcomed the announcement from Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk that his country 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.

Poland was the first stop on Biden's three day trip to Eastern Europe that appeared to be aimed at smoothing over relations with U.S. allies there after the Obama administration's announced 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, 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 the 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."

"Simply put, our missile plan is better security for NATO, and is better security for Poland, and ultimately better security for the United States of America," the vice president said.

Biden thanked Tusk and Polish President Lech Kaczynski for the service Polish troops have given in Afghanistan.

"They are genuine warriors, and they are making great sacrifices," he said. "We are thankful for your soldiers standing alongside of ours in Afghanistan, also in Iraq and the Balkans."
Biden later met with Polish veterans who have served in Afghanistan.

Biden's next stop is Romania on Thursday and he finishes his trip in the Czech Republic on Friday.

-Karen Travers

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