NATO allies agreed Thursday to give President Bush strong support for a missile-defense system to be installed in Europe in spite of strong Russian resistance, and conceded to provide more troops in Afghanistan.
Bush signed an agreement with the Czech Republic to build radar for the system that will track the sky for any threats. Washington is set to seal a deal with Poland where 10 interceptor rockets would be stationed.
President Vladimir Putin is opposed to the missile defense system being installed in the Czech Republic and Poland, despite Bush's assurances that it is not aimed at Russia, but at Iran, North Korea and China. Mr. Putin has even threatened to target the system with Russian missiles, while also offering a substitute system in Kazakhstan.
Putin will join NATO talks on Friday, the last day of the annual summit in Bucharest, Romania. Following the conference, Putin and Bush will meet at Russian resort where missile talks are due to continue.
Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee of the Russian parliament, said Russia doubted Bush's motives behind the missile-defense plan.
We still do not have a proper explanation of this project, he said. It is not about the number of interceptors. It's about undermining mutual confidence and trust.
According to a statement released by NATO allies, the ballistic missile proliferation poses an increasing threat to allies' forces, territory and populations. Missile defense forms part of a broader response to counter this threat.
The statement urged all NATO members to venture new ways in which the planned U.S. project can be connected with future missile shields elsewhere. The document also exhorted Russia to take advantage of United States missile defense cooperation proposals and said NATO was ready to explore the potential for linking United States, NATO and Russian missile defense systems at an appropriate time.