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Bush Thanks Poland for Missile Defense Support

11 June 2007

President also thanks allies for support in Iraq, Afghanistan

Washington -- European nations and the United States will negotiate a missile-defense agreement that protects the entire European continent, President Bush said during a visit to Poland -- a proposed host-nation for U.S. anti-missile interceptors.

“I appreciate the support of the deployment of the missile defense interceptors here in Poland,” President Bush said June 8 in Gdansk, Poland, following three days of talks with the Group of Eight (G8) in Germany.  The president also visited Italy, Albania and Bulgaria during his European trip.

The United States, concerned about future missile threats from Iran, is in talks with Poland and the Czech Republic to have them host U.S. anti-missile interceptors and a radar site.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed strong concerns that the anti-missile system could undermine Russian security and the nuclear balance of power.  However, in talks at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, Putin made several recommendations on how Russia, the United States and Europe could cooperation on a missile-defense program.  (See related article.)

It is the position of the United States that the proposed anti-missile system does not threaten Russia.  The proposed 10 interceptors would not be numerous enough to be effective against Russia’s nuclear weapons.  Also the proposed interceptor site in Poland and the proposed Czech radar site both are positioned poorly to be effective against any Russian-launched weapons.  Instead, the locations are intended to be effective against intercontinental weapons launched from the Middle East region toward Europe or North America.

“We will negotiate a fair agreement that enhances the security of Poland, and the security of the entire continent against rogue regimes that might be willing to try to blackmail free nations,” Bush said June 8 during a joint appearance with Poland’s president, Lech Kaczynski, in Gdansk.

Rogue regimes are “the true threat of the 21st century,” Bush said.

U.S. officials several times have voiced concern over the future threat of Iran’s ongoing missile and nuclear programs.

“The system has no aggressive intentions,” Kaczynski said of the U.S. missile defense proposal.  “This is the plan which is to re-enforce the protection of Europe against the dangers which result from the fact that not all the countries of the contemporary world are responsible -- we do not mean Russia here.  It’s about other states.”

“I have made clear what you just made clear, Mr. President, the system we have proposed is not directed at Russia,” Bush said after Kaczynski spoke.  “Indeed, we would welcome Russian cooperation on missile defense.”  Bush said the United States and Europe, including Russia, have a shared interest in “providing protection for people from rogue regimes who might be in a position to either blackmail and/or attack those of us who live in free societies.”

In his visits to Poland, Italy, Albania and Bulgaria, Bush also thanked allies for their support in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he urged quick action to resolve the future status of Kosovo. (See related article.)

A transcript of the remarks by Bush and Kaczynski is available on the White House Web site.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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