In this situation, the Atlantic Council decided that it would be timely to send to European capitals a team of respected leaders and experts involved in the missile defense debate in the United States. Their purpose was to engage a wide range of European leaders and experts both inside and outside governments, in intensive dialogue about the issues presented by the missile defense question and to prepare for broad public distribution a report on their discussions and on the state of European thinking as they observed it. This policy paper is the result of this initiative, which took place in mid-July.
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The team’s discussions were rich and serious and the report suggests considerable evolution in European attitudes during the past months. As a result, the team’s recommendations propose an agenda for continuing dialogue with the allies, in both official and nongovernmental channels, in the coming months as U.S. policy is reviewed by a new administration and a new Congress. While such a dialogue may not lead to consensus on all the issues involved, it can certainly, if well conducted, greatly improve mutual understanding and reduce the political consequences of whatever differences of view may persist. Meanwhile, the Council hopes that this report will serve to inform and enlighten debate in this country about European views on this important subject. The Atlantic Council hopes to be able to play a leading part in developing such a dialogue along the lines of the recommendations in the report. The views expressed in this report reflect the consensus of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Atlantic Council.