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US Missile Shield A Threat To Europe Unity Claims Chirac

File image of French President Jacques Chirac - AFP image

Armenia has 'no information' on US anti-missile plans
Yerevan (AFP) March 9 - Armenia, Russia's closest military ally in the Caucasus, said on Friday it had no information on whether the United States wanted it to host part of its anti-missile defence shield. "We have no information regarding the intentions of the United States to place anti-missile radars in one of the Caucasian republics and therefore are not considering this question," foreign ministry spokesman Vladimir Karapetian told AFP. The head of the US missile agency said on March 1 that his country wanted to put a mobile radar in one of the Caucasus countries -- Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia -- where it could detect missiles earlier than other planned units in Europe. Russia has reacted furiously to plans to place parts of the system in states friendly to Washington, including the Czech Republic and Poland. The US insists the system would aim to track missiles from states such as North Korea and Iran. Armenia is Russia's closest military ally in the Caucasus and a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a post-Soviet security group dominated by Russia. Russia maintains its largest military base in the South Caucasus in the Armenian city of Gyumri, where about 3,000 troops are deployed. The Russian and Armenian armies jointly patrol the country's western and southern borders.
by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) March 9, 2007
The US anti-missile shield project, which is strongly opposed by Russia, risks creating "new lines of division in Europe," French President Jacques Chirac warned Friday. "The project raises numerous questions which require consideration before they are answered," the French leader told a press conference following a summit of EU heads of state and government in Brussels.

"We have to be very careful not to encourage new lines of division in Europe," said Chirac, attending his last formal European summit.

The United States wants to build a bank of 10 interceptors in Poland from next year to shoot down missiles that might be fired from "rogue states" like Iran or North Korea.

The interceptors would home in on information provided by a tracking station to be set up in the Czech Republic, as well as a forward operating radar at an undisclosed location in the Caucasus.

Moscow has reacted angrily to the plan and senior Russian military figures have warned that they might target the missile-shield sites with their own weapons.

Washington maintains that the new part of the shield -- to be fully operational by 2013 -- would protect not only eastern parts of the United States, but also many of its European allies.

earlier related report
Sweden plays down Russia tensions over US missile shield
Brussels (AFP) March 8 - Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt played down Thursday fears that building part of a US missile shield in Europe could heighten tensions with Russia, which fiercely opposes the system.

When asked if he was concerned that the shield might ultimately pit Moscow against the European Union, Bildt said: "Not at all at the moment. I think it's a much too early stage, it's just initial discussions that are going on."

The United States wants to build a bank of 10 interceptors in Poland from next year to shoot down missiles that might be fired from "rogue states" like Iran or North Korea.

The interceptors would home in on information provided by a tracking station to be set up in the Czech Republic, as well as a forward operating radar at an undisclosed location in the Caucasus.

Washington maintains that the new part of the shield -- to be fully operational by 2013 -- would protect not only eastern parts of the United States, but also many of its European allies.

But Bildt, speaking as he arrived for a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, said: "This is primarily a system designed for the protection of the United States and it's geared very much by the overall situation in the Middle East."

"I hope that we would, in the years to come, have sufficient progress on the peace process in the Middle East to make these discussions somewhat more academic," he told reporters.

The missile shield shot onto the EU's agenda on Monday when Austria requested that EU foreign ministers hear from their Polish and Czech counterparts about developments.

Parts of the system are set up in Britain and Greenland.

Despite the fact that the EU has no direct powers over defence matters, the bloc's German presidency left open the possibility that heads of state and government could debate the issue over dinner late Thursday.

earlier related report
Czech leader discusses missile defense with Cheney, Gates
Washington (AFP) March 9 - Czech President Vaclav Klaus held talks on missile defense and other issues here Friday with Vice President Dick Cheney and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, officials said.

"They discussed a range of issues, including the possibility of cooperation on missile defense against potential developing threats from the Middle East," Cheney's office said in a statement.

"The Vice President commended the Czech Republic's continuing contributions to global security as a strong NATO ally and stressed the US commitment to Euro-Atlantic security, which would be further strengthened by missile defense cooperation," the statement said.

The United States wants to build a bank of 10 interceptors in Poland from next year to shoot down missiles that might be fired from "rogue states" like Iran or North Korea.

The interceptors would home in on missiles using information provided by a radar tracking station to be set up in the Czech Republic, as well as a forward operating radar at an undisclosed location in the Caucasus.

Moscow has reacted angrily to the plan and senior Russian military figures have warned that they might target the missile-shield sites with their own weapons.

At a separate Pentagon meeting, Gates told Klaus he appreciated his government's support for the missile defense project so far, a Pentagon spokesman said.

"The secretary hopes to continue that dialogue with the Czechs on missile defense and also indicated that we have been and will continue dialogue with the Russians as well," said Commander Joe Carpenter.

Gates also thanked Klaus for the Czech Republic's troop contributions to operations in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Dialogue Of The Deaf Over ABM Plans
Washington (UPI) March 8, 2007
The United States has launched its diplomatic offensive to try and improve relations with Russia, especially on the thorny issue of building ballistic missile defense facilities in Central Europe. But it is proving to be a dialogue of the deaf.







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