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NATO approves missile defence system for member states at Lisbon summit

By Abdul Nisar

Lisbon, Nov 20 (ANI): US President Barack Obama has said that NATO leaders have approved plans to expand a missile defence system that would protect all of the military alliance's member nations, including Europe and North America.

"It offers a role for all of our allies. It responds to the threats of our times," the BBC quoted Obama, as saying.

NATO is also backing the ratification of the Start treaty between the US and Russia, which both the countries had signed in April. The agreement would reportedly reduce both countries' nuclear weapons and allow each to inspect the other's facilities, the BBC reports.

Missile defence has been a point of tension between NATO and Russia in the past. However on Saturday, when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev would join the summit in Lisbon, the leaders of the 28 NATO member states are expected to urge Russia to co-operate on missile defence and join the system.

"Tomorrow we look forward to working with Russia to build our co-operation with them in this area as well, recognising that we share many of the same threats," he added.

In November 2009, Obama had announced that the US was scrapping plans for a missile shield based in Poland and the Czech Republic, which had angered Russia.

Calling for the speedy ratification of the Start treaty, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that any delay "would be damaging to security in Europe."he treaty is currently before the US Congress, where some Republican lawmakers are resisting ratification, saying they need further reassurance about America's nuclear deterrent capability after Start.

The Obama administration currently needs eight Republican votes in the Senate to reach the 67 out of 100 needed to ratify the treaty, the report added. (ANI)

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