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US VP Biden Thanks Romania for Missile Shield Support

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met with Romania's president Thursday and thanked him for backing a reconfigured missile defense system unveiled in Washington last month.

Speaking in Bucharest, Biden told President Traian Basescu the revamped missile shield will benefit both Romania and the United States. The new system will be based on warships and could have land-based elements in Poland.

Washington scrapped a previous missile shield plan proposed by former President George W. Bush that would have based missile interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic. That plan was vehemently opposed by Russia.

Biden also thanked Mr. Basescu for contributing 1,000 soldiers to the NATO effort in Afghanistan, and said Romanians can be proud of their contribution. He then praised Romania and the rest of central and eastern Europe for becoming "established democracies" since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989.

Biden's one-day visit to Bucharest is part of a four-day tour of eastern Europe designed to reassure Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic that the U.S. commitment to the region remains strong.

He travels to Prague Friday.

In Poland Wednesday, Biden won Prime Minster Donald Tusk's endorsement for the revamped missile plan. He praised Poland for stepping up to back the plan, calling it "a better way" to defend against emerging missile threats.