Poland ready to join new US anti-missile plans, premier says
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Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (right) said on Wednesday during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden (left) that Poland would take part in a new US anti-missile system that replaces plans for a European missile shield opposed by Russia.
AFP - Poland would take part in a new US anti-missile system that aims to replace a shelved plan fiercely opposed by Russia, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Wednesday during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden.
"Poland feels this so-called SM-3 concept, a reconfigured anti-missile system, to be very interesting, and needed. We are prepared to participate in it on the necessary scale," Tusk told reporters during a joint press conference with Biden.
In response, Biden said: "I welcome the prime minister's affirmation that Poland stands ready to host future elements of the proposed missile defence."
"Poland is one of our closest allies and a critical partner in facing global challenges," he added.
In September, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that Washington aimed to deploy a new SM-3 anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic in 2015.
That announcement came as the administration of US President Barack Obama decided to shelve an earlier plan, strongly opposed by Russia, to set up an anti-missile system in Poland and its neioghbour.
The previous plan -- pushed by Obama's predecessor George W. Bush in what Washington said was a drive to ward off Iranian threats -- involved the deployment by 2013 of missile interceptors in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic.
Obama said that after a rethink, and the realisation that Iran was developing its own missiles more slowly than anticipated, his administration was opting for a more flexible system, expected to include ship-based missile interceptors.
In addition to the SM-3 plan, Washington has already pledged to boost Poland's own defences by deploying ground-to-air Patriot missiles in the country in 2010.
Poland and the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999, ten years after the demise of the region's communist regimes ended the Soviet-controlled Warsaw Pact grouping.