Czech Republic pulls out of US missile shield plan


From Karel Janicek, the APThe Czech Republic is withdrawing from U.S. missile defense plans out of frustration at its diminished role, the Czech defense minister told The Associated Press Wednesday. . . .

Defense Minister Alexander Vondra told the AP that the Czech Republic wanted to participate but "definitely not in this way. . . ."

Vondra spoke Wednesday after meeting U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn. . . .

"The offer that we made has been overtaken by events," Lynn said. "The Lisbon summit has changed the nature of the missile defense framework that we’re operating in. The offer, while I think an interesting one, a good one, no longer fits either the missile defense framework or Czech needs."

But Vondra called it "a consolation prize" at a meeting of NATO defense ministers last week in Brussels.

"Our ideas about the future cooperation are more colorful than just a room or two with some screens there," Vondra said. . . .

"I’m not surprised by the decision," said Jan Vidim, a lawmaker in the lower house of the Czech Parliament. "The United States has been and will be our crucial strategic partner but the current administration doesn’t take the Czech Republic seriously."

Vidim’s remarks reflected concern by many in Central and Eastern Europe that the U.S. interest in resetting ties with Moscow could come at their expense.  (photo: AP)

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