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Why Europe welcomes US missile defense shield decision

German analysts say this gives the US and Europe more leeway in negotiations with Russia, and give Poland a ‘healthier’ foreign policy.

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With President Barack Obama facing Republican charges that backing off a missile shield in eastern Europe is appeasing Russia and abandoning Poland, European officials are strongly applauding the American decision.

German and French diplomats see the White House move as changing a US policy imposed unilaterally on Europe – and allowing greater running room with Moscow on issues from Iran to North Korea, Afghanistan, nuclear proliferation, and with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

But Alexander Rahr of the German Council of Foreign Relations, a Russian expert, says the original US missile shield plan was ill-conceived. He says that in eastern Europe and Russia the decision to shelve it is raising a new question: "Is Obama doing this out of American strength, or out of American weakness?" He adds, "I know that sounds pretty 19th century. But that's the question."

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