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Vice President Joe Biden is the first high-level U.S. official to visit Poland since President Barack Obama canceled the planned Central European missile shield proposed by former President George W. Bush. Biden said the new missile plan would be enough to defend Poland and he said U.S. support for Poland remains solid.
U.S. Defense officials say the new plan would include interceptor missiles deployed on U.S. Navy ships in the North Sea and Mediterranean, in addition to ground-based weapons. The interceptor missiles are aimed at countering missiles fired by Iran.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk described the plans as "very interesting" for Poland.
Biden explained the advantages of the new system:
"Our new phased adaptive approach to missile defense is designed to meet a growing threat, not only to the United States, but first and foremost to Europe,"he said. "It is going to meet it with proven technology that will cover more of Europe, including Poland, and it will do it more efficiently than the previous system could have or did."
But Biden also had to soothe concerns that scrapping Bush-era plans for a more comprehensive system does not signal a breakdown of Polish-U.S. relations.
Mr. Obama's announcement last month that he was canceling the planned Bush-era missile shield ruffled a lot of feathers in Poland. Some politicians claimed the United States had abandoned the region in order to repair relations with Russia, which strongly opposed the previous missile plan. Polish newspapers ran alarming headlines about betrayal and the triumph of Moscow.
But Biden assured Poland the United States and NATO are still committed to defending the region.
"Under NATO's Article 5, an attack on one is an attack on all," added Biden. "And this strategic assurance is absolute. President Obama and I consider this to be a solemn obligation."
Although many people are disappointed, not everyone in Poland thinks the original missile-defense plan was necessary.
During his European trip, Biden will also be visiting Romania and the Czech Republic.