Czech, US officials discuss missile defense

Czech, US officials disc

The Obama administration hopes the Czech Republic will play an important role in a reworked US missile defense plan, a top American official said Monday. Ellen Tauscher, the US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, held talks at the Czech Foreign Ministry to discuss ways for the Czech Republic to participate in the new system. "This is ... the opportunity for the Czech Republic to play a very significant role," Tauscher told reporters after meeting with Foreign Minister Jan Kohout and his deputy Tomas Pojar. "We are talking to the government about a number of good opportunities," she said. No details were given. In September, the Obama administration scrapped Bush-era blueprints for basing long-range interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic as part of a missile defense shield designed to shoot down long-range missiles from countries including Iran. It was strongly opposed by Russia. The new system is focused on short- and medium-range interceptors. A month ago, US Vice President Joe Biden won Czech support for the new plan, and that was followed by a visit to the Czech Republic by US Deputy Defense Secretary Alexander Vershbow earlier this month. "This is obviously a very big issue for us because of our deep relationships with the Czech Republic, and our hope that we can find a significant role for the Czech Republic," Tauscher said Monday. She said technical teams will be coming in next month to discuss further details.