Czech Republic endorses US missile defense plan | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 23.10.2009
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Czech Republic endorses US missile defense plan

The Czech approval means US Vice President Joe Biden had a clean sweep on his eastern European tour, meant to gather support for a revised missile defense system.

Czech Premier Jan Fischer and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden shaking hands before a meeting in Prague

Fischer and Biden met in Prague on Friday

The Czech Republic has backed Washington's new missile defense plan after US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to the country.

Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer said his country was "ready to participate" in the new plan, which focuses on short- and medium-range interceptors.

Biden said that the proposed SM-3 missile defense system would "cover Europe and the Czech Republic more effectively" than a missile shield plan drawn up during the administration of former US President George W. Bush.

A high-level defense team is to travel to Prague in early November to discuss the terms of the Czech Republic's participation, Biden said.

Biden goes three for three

An Iranian rocket test

Obama says the revised missile defense offers more flexibility

The US vice president arrived in Prague on Thursday on the last leg of his tour of three formerly communist NATO allies to pitch the missile defense plan, after winning backing from Poland and Romania.

He rejected charges that the decision to drop the Bush plan meant President Barack Obama's administration had knuckled under to Moscow, which had slammed the previous plan as a threat to its security.

"Some jumped to the conclusion that this new approach was designed to appeal to Russia at the expense of central Europe. They are wrong," Biden said.

Obama's decision to shelve the Bush plan angered some conservative politicians in Poland and the Czech Republic and prompted local media to accuse the US of "treachery" and selling out to Moscow.

The US president argued that the new system, which is expected to include ship-based missile interceptors, offered more flexibility. The decision came after a review found that Iran was not developing its long-range missiles as quickly as anticipated.

acb/AFP/AP
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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