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U.S., European Firms Forge Missile Defense Partnership

By Agence France-Presse The multinational European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. EADS NV and Chicago-based Boeing Co. unveiled July 23 an "historic" transatlantic partnership in ballistic missile defense that could pave the way for joint US-European development programs. "The transatlantic team effort will focus on creating end-to-end products for global missile defense," Boeing and EADS said in a joint statement at the Farnborough International Airshow, outside of London. "This agreement establishes a framework for our relationship in the area of global missile defense that would ultimately protect the U.S. and its allies from global threats," they added. Boeing said it had also signed similar agreements with Britain's BAE Systems PLC and Alenia-Spacio, a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica SpA. The partnership is the first on ballistic missile defense between Boeing, the prime U.S. government contractor in integrated missile defense systems, and European companies. EADS is the largest European aerospace company. The partnership also is seen as the first step toward joint U.S.-European missile defense programs, if European governments give it their seal of approval. U.S. President George W. Bush has committed the United States to deploying a missile shield as soon as possible, rejecting complaints from European allies, who argue that the plan will spark a new arms race. Boeing chief executive Philip M. Condit said the partnership marked an important beginning to transatlantic cooperation. "We believe that a strong transatlantic partnership is key to ballistic missile defense and we can build some strong bridges and create commonality of interest between Europe and the U.S.," he said. EADS Co-Chief Executive Rainer Hertrich added that Europeans were becoming increasingly aware of new security challenges and the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. "We believe that there is a strong basis for the United States and Europe to work together to face a common threat," he said. "We understand that cooperation is the purpose of the U.S. government's international participation offer and we are quite interested by the reaction of the European governments." Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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