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NATO 'welcomes' Romania agreement to host U.S. interceptors

RIA Novosti

11:32 14/09/2011

BRUSSLES, September 14 (RIA Novosti) - NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has welcomed Romania's agreement to host missile interceptors as part of a new U.S. missile defense shield for Europe.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi signed the agreement to deploy a U.S. land-based SM-3 ballistic missile defense at an air base near south Romania's town of Caracal.

"I welcome the signing of the agreement under which the United States will deploy anti-missile interceptors in Romania," Rasmussen said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The deployment of these defensive interceptors will be an important element of NATO's missile defense capability, which was agreed at the Lisbon summit last November."

Russia complained on Tuesday of the "absence of progress" in its talks with NATO and the United States on the new scheme.

In 2009, Washington scrapped a previous missile shield, based in Poland and the Czech Republic, which had angered Russia.

Moscow has agreed to cooperate on the new plan, but warned it may strengthen its own defenses if it is not made a full partner in the U.S.-led shield.

The U.S. State Department said its missile defense site in Romania will occupy approximately 175 hectares when the deployment is completed by 2015.

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