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Lithuania Would Consider Hosting US Missile Shield if Asked

Lithuania's defense minister says his country would consider hosting parts of a U.S. missile defense system if asked, but says no talks on the subject are underway.

Juozas Olekas Wednesday downplayed reports there was any immediate need for such consideration. He told Lithuanian media that he believed current talks between Washington and Warsaw on deploying parts of the shield in Poland will be completed successfully.

But Olekas added that if a proposal is made, Lithuania would consider all its positive and negative aspects.

U.S. officials Tuesday denied a news report that the U.S. was talking to Lithuania about the program if plans with Poland fall through. A State Department spokesman called the notion of any proposal to Lithuania an "overstatement."

A Pentagon spokesman added Tuesday that while a deal with Poland may be close, the U.S. must consider a back-up plan.

The United States wants to place interceptor missiles in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic to counter what it says is a threat from Iran. Russia strongly opposes the plan as a threat to its own security.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.