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President Barack Obama announced Friday that NATO has agreed to his plans for a new, expanded missile defense system for Europe that would cover all NATO member countries and the United states.
The U.S. has a missile defense system based mainly in North America, and is planning one for its European allies.
“For the first time, we’ve agreed to develop a missile defense capability that is strong enough to cover all NATO European territory and populations as well as the United States,” Obama said.
NATO’s acceptance of the missile-shield plan was a bright spot for a president who has suffered setbacks in elections at home and in diplomacy on the world stage in the past few weeks.
On a recent swing through Asia, Obama failed to sign a free-trade deal with South Korea and couldn’t muster enough support from other nations for his opposition to China’s handling of its currency.
The missile shield, Obama said, “offers a role for all of our allies, it responds to the threats of our times. It shows our determination to protect our citizens from the threat of ballistic missiles.”
“An attack on one NATO member is an attack on all,” he said.
The expanded anti-missile system is expected to cost $273 million over the next decade, according to NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who also is seeking Russian cooperation on the project.
NATO leaders have refused to name any potential enemy, but in the past officials have publicly singled out Iran. Turkey, an alliance member with close ties to Iran, has refused to allow NATO to identify Iran as a threat.
Obama spoke between meetings on the summit’s opening day and declared that “substantial progress” had been made.
The summit’s focus will shift Saturday to the war effort in Afghanistan.
NATO aims to begin reducing its troop presence in Afghanistan next July, and put Afghans in charge of their country’s security by 2014, a top alliance official said Friday.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press