CHICAGO (AP) – France’s new president said Sunday that Russia and other countries should not feel threatened by the planned NATO missile defense system.
Speaking at the NATO summit in Chicago, President Francois Hollande laid out four conditions for French support for the antimissile defense _ including cost, rules of engagement, industrial support for European contractors and compatibility with France’s nuclear deterrent.
The comments came at a news conference after Hollande affirmed his “pragmatic” decision to withdraw nearly all of the 3,400 French troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2012 _ a move that breaks with NATO’s timetable of a unified pullout by the end of 2014.
Hollande’s expedited pullout plan has been a major sticking point at the summit. The German government has sharply criticized the French plans with Chancellor Angela Merkel backing the previously agreed principle of “in together, out together.”
Russia has opposed the missile defense system believing the program is aimed at its missiles. The U.S. has said the system is designed to counter a missile threat from a rogue nation such as Iran.
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