WASHINGTON — The United States and its NATO allies are close to an agreement to erect a missile shield over Europe, a project that would give the military alliance a fresh purpose while testing President Barack Obama's campaign to improve relations with Russia.
The deal is likely to be sealed at a two-day NATO summit starting Friday in Lisbon, Portugal, officials say, as part of what the alliance calls its new "strategic concept," the first overhaul of its basic mission since 1999.
The summit will include Obama and leaders of the 27 other member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will join a separate NATO-Russia session on Saturday.
Outlines of the deal were provided to The Associated Press by American officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal allied deliberations.
Under the arrangement, a limited system of US anti-missile interceptors and radars already planned for Europe would be linked to expanded European-owned missile defenses. That would create a broad system that would protect every NATO country against medium-range missile attack.
NATO plans to invite Russia to join the missile shield effort, although Moscow would not be given joint control. The gesture would mark a historic milestone for the alliance, created after World War II to defend Western Europe against the threat of an invasion by Soviet forces.