Biden wraps up Central European tour in Prague
Prague: US Vice President Joe Biden wraps up a tour of Central Europe in the Czech Republic on Friday, attempting to shore up support for a reworked missile defense plan and reassuring critics that Washington remains committed to guaranteeing the country`s security.
Biden, whose brief stay in Prague follows stops in Poland and Romania, is scheduled to meet with both Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Jan Fischer, separately, as well as with other political leaders.
He is seeking support for Washington`s revamped missile defence plan, a month after the Obama administration scrapped blueprints to base a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe designed to shoot down long-range missiles that might be fired from rogue states such as Iran. Russia had strongly objected that the system jeopardised its own security.
Instead, Washington proposes focusing the project on short- and medium-range interceptors.
The decision has sparked fears in formerly communist Eastern Europe that Washington was sacrificing its interests in order to improve ties with Russia.
On Wednesday, Poland eagerly signed on to the revamped US missile shield.
But in the Czech Republic, biting comments from former but still influential political figures tainted the atmosphere ahead of Biden`s arrival.
Biden "should clearly explain the reasons that led the Obama administration to its decision not to build a radar in the Czech Republic," Former prime minister Mirek Topolanek said in a statement.
Topolanek, whose government signed treaties with the Bush administration to build the radar system and took a lot of heat from a majority of Czechs who opposed the plan, said the Obama administration`s moves toward Russia raise questions about "whether the United States is stepping back from the region of Central and Eastern Europe in exchange for better relations with Russia."
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel told the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that he expected Biden to "make it clear that America is interested in us, that someone else has not pushed us out of America`s field of vision."
Analysts, meanwhile, said it was unlikely Biden would leave with a clear commitment from Prague, since the country`s weak caretaker government lacks a mandate to move forward on any strategic defence issues, including missile defence deals. A new government will be formed only after general elections in May.
The country has been in political limbo since Topolanek`s government lost a parliamentary no-confidence vote in March, just before President Barack Obama visited Prague.
"This government could hardly negotiate anything concrete," said Pavel Prikryl, an analyst at Prague`s Association for International Affairs.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- DNA: Harmful chemicals found in Maggi, Nestle India still in denial mode
- CM Kejriwal shortlists 39 'unwanted' IAS officers in Delhi
- Rajasthan: Gujjars revive reservation agitation, block rail track
- DNA: Modi-led NDA govt's hits and misses in one year
- J Jayalalithaa sworn-in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
- Dr Subhash Chandra Show: Aspiring for more than what you have!
- ISIS to buy first nuclear weapon from Pak?
- Mumbai: CCTV captures assailant with gun at Film City
- Mathura SSP receives death threat letter, message for PM Modi
- BJP now central pole of Indian politics: Arun Jaitley
- Maharashtra FDA sends Maggi noodles for lab testing
- See what can Maggi do to your health!
- Watch: Fast N Facts @ 7:30pm
- Haridwar: Hotel Radisson Blu sealed for polluting Ganga
- Delhi: Two killed in road accident in New Ashok Nagar
- PM Narendra Modi graces Digvijay Singh's son wedding reception
- Goa Board SSC Exam Results 2015 announced
- Rahul Gandhi to pressurise govt to act on one-rank-one-pension issue
- ISIS close to buying nuclear weapon from Pakistan?
- Manohar Parrikar visits forward areas along LoC, reviews security situation
- There will be no delay in appointing CIC, CVC: Jitendra Singh
- Credibility of Prime Minister's Office restored by BJP, says Arun Jaitley
- ISIS justifies raping slave girls, says Michelle Obama is 'worth $40'
- Arvind Kejriwal to highlight AAP govt's 100 days work on Monday
- 'Unhappy' Celina Jaitley asks Sunny Leone to move out?
- BJP's plan for one-year celebration: 200 big rallies, 5,000 public meetings
- IPL 2015 Final: Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings - Preview
- Heatwave leaves 153 dead in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh
- CBSE Results 2015: 10th board exam results to be declared on May 27
- Jayalalithaa returns as Tamil Nadu CM: As it happened