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    U.S. says Czech Republic 'respects' missile defense reversal

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    The Czech Republic "respected and understood" the proposed shift in U.S. missile-defense plans in Europe, a senior U.S. official has said

    WASHINGTON, September 22 (RIA Novosti) - The Czech Republic "respected and understood" the proposed shift in U.S. missile-defense plans in Europe, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Philip Gordon said on Tuesday.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a bilateral meeting with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout on Monday.

    "The Czech foreign minister explained that he respected and understood the decision of the United States to move forward in a different way. And the Secretary underscored why we think that that's a better plan. And also they agreed that the Czech Republic would have opportunities to be involved in the plan," Gordon told journalists.

    U.S. President Barack Obama has announced that Washington was dropping its previous plans to deploy elements of a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland.

    According to the Obama administration's new plan, land-based missile defense shields will not be implemented before 2015. Sea-based defense shields will operate in the Mediterranean Sea up to 2015.

    The new plan is "about doing missile defense better in a way that'll get it up and working sooner, in a way that will cover more countries, in a way that will be more flexible, and in a way that will continue to involve many of our close allies, including the Czech Republic," Gordon said.

    He reiterated that the decision to adjust its European missile shield plan was not caused by Russia's attitude.

    "The Secretary did have the opportunity to underscore that the decision wasn't about Russia; the decision was about how best to protect America and its allies and deployed American forces, and that's what drove the decision to the place it ended up," the U.S. diplomat said.

    The White House said in its Fact Sheet on U.S. Missile Defense Policy released September 17 that two major developments had led to the revision of the U.S. strategy in Europe: the increasing threat from Iran's short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, rather than intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the significant advances in the U.S. missile defense capabilities in recent years.

    The Bush administration sought to deploy an omni-directional radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland as defense against potential strikes from Iran. Russia has consistently opposed the plans as a threat to its security and the strategic balance of forces in Europe.

     

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