France prepared to finance missile shield: presidency source

15th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

France is prepared to contribute to a NATO-planned anti-missile shield, a source at President Nicolas Sarkozy's office told AFP on Friday, but it will not replace France's nuclear deterrent.

"The deterrent remains a necessity as long as certain countries continue to develop their nuclear arsenal or want access to the bomb," a senior Elysee palace official said.

"A missile shield should complement, but only usefully complement the deterrent," the source added, three days before Sarkozy is to host Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a summit.

"Not only are we not against (the missile shield plan) but we are ready to contribute financially or in kind," the source said.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates called during a visit to Brussels for NATO allies to invest in the missile-shield.

Gates has put the price tag to link NATO members into a common anti-missile network at between 85 million and 100 million euros (120 million and 140 million dollars).

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed optimism the missile shield would be endorsed by NATO leaders at a summit in Lisbon on November 19-20, saying it was well on the way to a "consensus."

French Defence Minister Herve Morin, however, on Thursday expressed his "reservations" about the plan, saying Paris wanted more details about how much the system would cost and how it would work.

France, a nuclear-armed power, was also at odds with Germany, which backs the missile shield plan but is also pushing for nuclear disarmament.

© 2010 AFP

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