Boost for missile plan
 
On the missile shield plan, a communique that Nato leaders are to adopt during the summit will recognise "the substantial contribution to the protection of allies... to be provided by the US-led system".
 
Bush has been pushing for Ukraine and Georgia
to gain Nato membership [AFP]
The statement, circulated by US officials, will declare Nato's support for the defence system and call on all Nato members to explore ways in which the project, to be based in Poland and the Czech Republic, can be linked with future missile shields elsewhere.

 

A related US and Czech Republic deal was also reached on the stationing of a US radar in the Czech Republic to track ballistic missiles.

 

"The radar will be linked to other US missile defence facilities in Europe and the United States," a joint communique from the two countries said.

 

Nato's statement will call on Russia to accept US and Nato offers to co-operate on the system, which will also involve 10 interceptor missiles to be based in Poland.

 

Nato's backing of the US missile defence system has been strongly criticised by Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, who is due to meet Nato members in Bucharest on Friday.
 
Macedonia refused
 

Decisions on which former Soviet states would be permitted membership action plan (Map) status, which puts applicants on a clear path to membership, were also made.

 

Albania and Croatia were officially invited to join, but Macedonia was refused by Greece's veto in a dispute over the former Yugoslav republic's name.

 

The news prompted the Macedonian delegation to walk out of the summit.

 

The Greeks consider the Macedonian membership a claim on their northern provinces of the same name.

 

The summit also vowed to "support each other in sharing the burden" of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan by providing their military commanders with more forces and training teams.

 

Meanwhile, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, 

announced that he would decide in the coming year on whether to return to Nato's military command, which Paris quit in 1966.

Source: Agencies