Lithuania agreed to consider hosting missile base: USJuly 2nd, 2008 - 2:52 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, July 2 (RIA Novosti) Lithuania has agreed to consider hosting a missile interceptor base if the US deal with Poland falls through, a Pentagon officials has said quoting US Defence Secretary Robert Gates. Lithuania has expressed its “willingness to consider hosting the interceptors” if the ongoing talks with Poland fails, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said while briefing about the meeting between Gates and visiting Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas Tuesday.
“The Lithuanian prime minister indicated that his government was willing to consider hosting the interceptors, and for that the secretary expressed his appreciation,” the spokesman said.
“Our position remains the same: our preference is to work out a deal with the Poles. But prudent planning requires that we simultaneously look at backups, if necessary. Lithuania would geographically serve as a good alternative,” the spokesman added.
Poland has taken a tough stance in the missile talks with the US, demanding that Washington upgrade the country’s air defence systems as a condition for agreeing to station 10 interceptor missiles on its territory.
The US wants to set up an anti-missile shield in central Europe with an aim to protect the region from possible attacks from “rogue” states like Iran and North Korea. But Russia opposes the plans saying the shield would be a threat to its security and the nuclear deterrence system.
State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters Tuesday that the US remains hopeful that a deal with Poland can be reached in the near future.
“We’ve had these conversations for a long time, and I think you’d see a resolution of this somewhere in the coming days. But whether that’s in a week or two weeks, I’m not really in a position to say.”