Hillary hopes Russia accepts US missile defence
US believes Russia has nothing to fear from missile defence system in Europe.
Krakow: US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed hope on Saturday that Russia would drop its opposition to a US missile defence system in Europe and accept an offer to cooperate in developing technologies for shooting down hostile weapons.
"The offer stands," Hillary said at a news conference after witnessing the signing of an amendment to a US-Polish agreement on the basing of US missile interceptors in Poland.
Repeating a theme the Russians consistently have rejected, Hillary said Moscow has nothing to fear from a NATO-endorsed missile defence system based in Europe because it will be aimed at Iran`s missile arsenal.
"This is a purely defensive system," she told reporters, with her Polish counterpart, Radek Sikorski, at her side. "It does not threaten Russia." Moscow views the project as a potential threat to its own missile arsenal.
Sikorski said his country fully supports the project, which the Obama administration radically altered last year in a move that some critics interpreted as a conciliatory gesture to Russia and a slap at Poland.
The Bush administration had planned to install 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic. President Barack Obama decided to reconfigure the system to account for what he said were changes in the nature of the Iranian missile threat. Obama`s system eventually would include land-based SM-3 anti-missile interceptors in Poland; the early elements are largely sea-based.
The amendment signed on Saturday was a technical adjustment to reflect Obama`s changes.
Upon her arrival from Ukraine, Hillary laid a wreath and paid her respects at the Katyn Cross, a memorial to the nearly 100 Poles killed in an April plane crash in Russia en route to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet massacre of Polish POWs in Katyn forest. Among those killed in the plane crash was Poland`s president, Lech Kaczynski.
Hillary also toured the World War II-era Schindler Factory Museum, which captures in stark images and artefacts the suffering of Jews at the hands of Nazi Germany. Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist, is credited with saving the lives of hundreds of Jews by bringing them to his factory in Krakow from the nearby Plaszow concentration camp.
Hillary spoke in sombre tones of the haunting symbols inside the museum.
"We see here the two realities of the Holocaust," she said — the privation and slaughter of Jews, as well as the heroic efforts by some to save them from Plaszow.
She said the Obama administration would seek congressional approval of a USD 15 million donation, over five years, to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation to help finance an endowment to preserve and safeguard the remains of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. An estimated 1.1 million victims perished at the camp.
Hillary was to speak later on Saturday at an international conference on the promotion of democracy.