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Romania, US conclude talks on missile shield

by Staff Writers
Bucharest (AFP) May 5, 2011
Bucharest and Washington have concluded talks on the deployment of US missile interceptors in Romania and will sign the agreement next autumn, Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi said Thursday.

"The two teams have finalised the text of the agreement on installing an American defence system in Romania," Baconschi told a press conference.

The agreement will be signed in autumn and submitted for ratification to parliament, he added.

The two countries had made important strides in the talks with the announcement Tuesday of the site where missile interceptors are to be installed.

After a detailed analysis, the two sides decided a former airbase in southern Romania, Deveselu, was the best location, President Traian Basescu had said.

A total of 24 SM-3 interceptors will be deployed at the airbase which will host a maximum of 500 US troops.

"This defence system will play a double role: both protect this country and deter potential attacks," Baconschi stressed.

He added that Romania's prestige and credibility will be boosted by participation in this system.

Washington originally planned to install its anti-missile shield in Poland and the neighbouring Czech Republic, aimed at countering feared attacks from Iran. But that plan, which angered Russia after it saw itself as the target for the shield system, was scrapped by US President Barack Obama in September 2009.

Washington has since reworked the scheme and signed a new treaty with Moscow on reducing strategic nuclear weapons.

On Tuesday, Moscow said it would seek legal guarantees that the US does not intend to deploy a missile defence system aimed at its strategic nuclear forces.

But Baconschi once again stressed that the shield was "purely defensive" and added that he hoped Russia would participate in a constructive way in this system.

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