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US Secretary of State Defends Plan for US Missile Defense System in Europe

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the U.S. plan to build a missile defense system in Europe will be a "stabilizing factor" by helping to protect against potential threats from Iran. The plan has angered Russia and caused concern in Europe. VOA's Leta Hong Fincher has this report.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the U.S. plan to deploy a new missile defense system in Europe will help protect against future threats, such as possible rockets launched from Iran. "We live in a world in which we face small nuclear threats, small potential missile threats from, for instance, Iran. And in that world, a limited missile defense that can deal with small threats is very much a stabilizing factor, not a destabilizing factor."

Rice discussed the missile system after a meeting [Monday] in Washington with European Union foreign ministers. She said the United States has had repeated discussions with Russia on the planned defense system. It would place missile interceptors in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic. "We're continuing to consult with the Russians. But the notion that somehow this is aimed at Russia is simply not borne out by the facts."

Russia opposes the missile plan. President Vladimir Putin says it would be a threat to Russian security.

The U.S. plan has also sparked unease in Europe. France has raised doubts about the system's effectiveness. And Germany has raised concerns that it could spark a new arms race.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said following his meeting with Rice that the United States should broaden its talks with Europe. "We, as the president of the European Union, do have an understandable interest in seeing the European positions be harmonized."

Steinmeier downplayed any German differences with the United States over the missile issue. He said America's need to protect itself against possible threats should be respected.