Bush envisions missile defense that includes allies
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Tuesday will propose a missile defense system designed to protect American allies, not just the United States, a White House spokesman said Monday in advance of the president's scheduled address.
The speech will be the springboard for previously announced administration plans to consult with key allies in the spring to overcome skepticism and opposition.
"The president will present this as his view of the best way to preserve the peace in the post-Cold War era," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters Monday.
"I think the point the president makes repeatedly about the need to develop a missile defense is [that] the Cold War is over, and the United States needs to protect itself and our allies and our troops that are stationed abroad from a different nature of threat," Fleischer said. "And the paradigm that existed in the Cold War is no longer the most imperative paradigm that should guide America's defense structures."
Bush decided not to begin construction this year at an Alaska site that would be involved in the missile defense network. That decision was left over from the Clinton administration.
Instead, Bush decided to wait for a review of military spending being conducted by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has told deputies he considers the missile shield a top priority.
Bush plans two trips to Europe over the next several months, and administration officials want to consult with key allies beforehand and make their case for the missile shield. The president's speech is the opening foray in making the case to the allies and the American people, the White House official said.
In an interview with CNN last week, Bush discussed the issue.
"It's an issue that my administration is going to take very seriously, and that is the development of anti-ballistic missile systems that will make our world a safer world," Bush said. "And one of the things you'll see us doing here in the course of -- in due time -- is to begin consultations with others around the world as to what we mean by missile defense. I'm not prepared to do that yet, but we'll do that.
"And I had said during the course of the campaign, and I'm going to say it in the administration, it is important for us to use our resources and technologies to develop such a system so as to make threats to people around the world that, you know, as obsolete as possible, as irrelevant as possible. And that threat's not only in the Far East, but in the Middle East as well, and to our own homeland," the president said.
Bush spoke by telephone Monday with the leaders of four U.S. allies -- Germany, France, Canada and Great Britain -- and with NATO's chief general to discuss his proposals, administration officials said. He has not spoken to Russian President Vladmir Putin.
CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King contributed to this article.
Bush to deliver address on national missile defense (April 27, 2001)
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