News / Europe

NATO Approves Europe Missile Defense Plan

President Barack Obama, flanked by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are seen during the NATO Official group photo of the North Atlantic Council summit in Lisbon , Portugal.
President Barack Obama, flanked by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are seen during the NATO Official group photo of the North Atlantic Council summit in Lisbon , Portugal.


Kent Klein

Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have approved U.S. President Barack Obama's proposal for a new, expanded missile defense system for Europe. The agreement is a victory for the president, after a series of foreign policy setbacks.

President Obama says Friday's approval by NATO's main decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, will make Europe and the world more secure. "For the first time, we have agreed to develop missile defense capability that is strong enough to cover all NATO European populations, as well as the United States," he said.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the system is expected to cost $273 million over the next ten years.  He will ask Russia, which had originally opposed the idea of European missile defense, to cooperate on the project.

The NATO agreement is one of the most important foreign policy achivements for Mr. Obama since he took office two years ago. On his trip to Asia recently, Mr. Obama had failed to get a free-trade agreement with South Korea or enough support from other countries to  persuade China to change the way it handles its currency.

The leaders of all 28 NATO countries, meeting in the Portuguese capital, agreed Friday on a new strategic concept for the alliance.  The new mission statement is intended to address new kinds of threats and challenges.

For that reason, Rasmussen is calling this one of the most important summits in NATO's 61-year history. "We will develop modern capabilities to defend against modern threats.  We will reach out to partners around the globe.  We will make a fresh start in our relations with Russia, with the aim of building a strategic partnership," he said.

President Obama said substantial progress was made in the summit's first day, and he expects more to be made in Saturday's meetings on the future of the war in Afghanistan. "Tomorrow our NATO allies, ISAF partners and the Afghan government will work to align our approach on Afghanistan, particularly in two areas: our transition to full Afghan lead between 2011 and 2014, and the long-term partnership that we are building in Afghanistan," he said.

NATO plans to phase out combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and continue training and humanitarian missions beyond that time.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will be among those attending the session on Afghanistan.

Relations with Russia will be another focus of Saturday's meetings.  Mr. Obama again called Friday for Republicans in the U.S. Senate to drop their objections and pass the New START nuclear reduction treaty, which he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed in April. "But just as this is a national security priority for the United States, the message that I have received since I have arrived from my fellow leaders here at NATO could not be clearer: New START will strengthen our alliance and it will strengthen European security," he said.

NATO, which was founded to confront the perceived threat from the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact era, is trying to improve its relations with Russia.  President Medvedev will take part in the NATO-Russia meeting, and will meet one-on-one with Mr. Obama.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs