Romania joins Poland in backing new US anti-missile plans, Biden says
Issued on: Modified:
US Vice-President Joe Biden says Romania has joined Poland in embracing the new US missile defence system that replaces plans for a European missile shield. Slovakia, however, has ruled out taking part.
US Vice-President Joe Biden said on Thursday that Romania had joined Poland in embracing the “new US missile defence architecture”, which replaces the plan for a European missile shield hatched by the administration of former President George W. Bush.
Romania’s support, announced during a three-day tour of Eastern Europe by the US vice-president, comes a day after Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk described Washington’s new SM-3 anti-missile system as “very interesting and needed”.
Slovakia, however, has ruled out taking part. Prime Minister Robert Fico on Thursday categorically ruled out hosting any part of a US or NATO anti-missile system.
"As long as I remain the prime minister, I shall not agree to the location or deployment of any components of an anti-missile system on the territory of Slovakia," he told reporters in Bratislava.
The administration of President Barack Obama announced last month that it would ditch the plan for a European missile defence shield in favour of a “more flexible system” after a new assessment of the threat posed by Iran’s missile programme.
The announcement, hailed by Russia, had initially prompted dismay among governments in Central and Eastern Europe.
In a key address delivered at Bucharest University, Biden reiterated the United States’ commitment to its European allies and reaffirmed that the new anti-missile system would "protect all NATO allies, including all central European NATO members" and would provide "stronger, smarter and swifter defences".
Biden, who wraps up his tour of the region in the Czech Republic on Friday, also urged Eastern European countries to help guide the fledgling democracies of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine to stability.
Praising the example set by Eastern Europe since it broke free from the Soviet Bloc two decades ago, the US vice-president said the leadership exerted “over the next 20 years can do even more: encouraging, supporting and consolidating young democracies”.