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12 Feb, 2010 16:38

Bulgaria might host US anti-missile system

Bulgaria might deploy elements of the US anti-missile defense system on its territory. The country’s prime minister said on Friday that Sophia and Washington would hold talks on the matter.

According to Reuters, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov supports the idea of placing AMD elements in his country but stresses that the decision could only be made if the EU gives the green light to it.

“This is not a decision that will be taken only by me,” Borisov told reporters on Friday. “We are waiting replies from the European Commission and from the Bulgarian parliament.”

He added it is necessary to show solidarity.

“When you are a member of NATO, you have to work for the collective security.”

Borissov's statement comes after newly appointed US ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick said that Bulgaria could play a role in the future missile defense shield plans.

Warlick noted that no specific talks have been held so far and the two countries are only exchanging opinions for the moment.

However, Russia wants an explanation from the US over the talks.

Russia has always been opposed to the US AMD system in Europe. Although in September 2009 US President Barack Obama announced changes to the AMD plans, America has not given up the program.

Earlier this month, Romania announced it is ready to host anti-ballistic interceptors as part of an American missile shield in Eastern Europe. While in January, Warsaw said it would base US Patriot missiles near the border with the Russian city of Kaliningrad.

Washington has been trying to play down Russia's fears over its missile plans, claiming they are aimed at fending off a threat from the Middle East.

But political analyst Vladimir Kozin says there is a lot of controversy in explaining this move.

“The US have enough ballistic missile assets close to Iran, so it is not necessary to deploy Patriot missiles so close to the Russian border. If they wished, they could bring it closer to the Iranian soil – they have enough assets over there in the Gulf countries. In four of them, and aboard US naval warships sailing in the Arabian Sea, in the western Mediterranean, and in the Gulf itself,” Vladimir Kozin said.

Meanwhile, Mikhail Troitsky from the Moscow-based Macarthur Foundation says opposing views on the American defense system in Europe will not prevent Russia and the US from cooperating on more serious issues:

“I believe, currently, both Moscow and Washington are going to focus on finalizing the START agreement. It’s also clear that the missile defense system is a fairly long-term prospect. So both sides will now focus on the immediate goals,” Troitsky told RT.

Former American assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb says Russia shares this common interest.

“This will happen – if it does – in 2015, so we have five years to see what Iran does,” Korb reminded.