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News Wrap: Putin Applauds U.S. Reversal on Missile Shield

September 18, 2009 at 1:17 PM EDT
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In other news, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin applauded President Obama's "brave decision" to cancel plans for a U.S. missile shield in Europe, and seven former CIA directors asked the White House to end a criminal probe of interrogation tactics during the Bush years.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In other news today, Russian Prime Minister Putin welcomed a U.S. decision to alter plans for a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Instead, the U.S. will deploy interceptor missiles on ships off Southern Europe.

In Moscow, Putin said, “I very much hope that this correct and brave decision will be followed by others.” In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton defended the move against complaints that it will leave much of Europe exposed.

HILLARY CLINTON, Secretary of State: Now, I know we’ve heard criticism of this plan from some quarters, but much of that criticism is not yet connected to the facts. We are not, quote, “shelving” missile defense. We are deploying missile defense sooner than the Bush administration planned to do so, and we are deploying a more comprehensive system.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But some leaders in Poland and the Czech Republic charged that the U.S. decision leaves them vulnerable to pressure from Russia. The head of the Polish national security office said the U.S. reneged on its deal.

ALEKSANDER SZCZYGLO, director, Polish National Security Bureau (through translator): The fact that the agreement signed last year in August will not be implemented and the fact that time has run out for the new agreement, which is six to seven years old, gives us some doubts and leaves a big question mark on its realization. It is a long time when you remember that in all countries there could be big changes in high positions.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile in Brussels, the head of NATO called for the U.S., Russia, and NATO to link their missile defense systems as a way to ward off future threats.

In Afghanistan, the toll for U.S. and NATO forces grew by two today. Authorities announced that one American and one Canadian soldier were killed in roadside bombings on Thursday. Six Italian soldiers also died yesterday in a bombing in Kabul.

A suicide bombing in Pakistan has killed 29 people and injured 55 more. The car exploded in front of a two-story hotel on the outskirts of Kohat in the northwest of Pakistan. It was the second attack in the area in two days.

Insurgents in Somalia warned today that they will carry out more attacks. Twenty-one people died yesterday in a pair of suicide car bombings in Mogadishu, the capital. Seventeen of the victims were peacekeepers from the African Union. An Islamist group said that it was revenge for a U.S. raid that killed an al-Qaida leader on Monday.

Seven former heads of the CIA want to end a criminal probe of harsh interrogations in the Bush years; they made the request today in a letter to President Obama. They warned that the investigation will prompt other countries to stop cooperating in counter-terror operations.

Irving Kristol, known as the godfather of neoconservatism, died today in Washington. The political writer and publisher had lung cancer. Kristol once described himself as a liberal “mugged by reality.” He edited a number of conservative publications and wrote several books. Irving Kristol was 89 years old.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 36 points to close at 9,820. The Nasdaq rose 6 points to close above 2,132. For the week, both the Dow and the Nasdaq gained more than 2 percent.