US VP Mike Pence in Estonia raises prospect of deploying Patriot missiles (3)
Rahvusvahelised uudised 31 Jul 2017  EWR
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Deutsche Welle 31.7.2017
The US is considering deploying Patriot surface-to-air missiles in Estonia, US Vice President Mike Pence told Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on Sunday.

"We spoke about it today, but we didn't talk about a date or time," Ratas told state broadcaster ERR after the meeting.

The mobile, ground-based Patriot system is designed to intercept incoming missiles and warplanes.

"We talked about the upcoming (Russian military) maneuvers near the Estonian border... and how Estonia, the United States and NATO should monitor them and exchange information," Ratas said.

Pence was in Estonia as part of a four-day tour to Estonia, Georgia and Montenegro. He was due to meet with the leaders of the Baltics - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - on Monday. Later Monday, Pence is due in Georgia, a non-NATO member which has shared concerns about Russia, and then to Montenegro, which became NATO's 29th member on June 5.

'We are with you'
Pence told Fox News that he was sent to Europe by President Donald Trump "with a very simple message."

"That is that 'America First' doesn't mean 'America Alone,'" Pence told Fox News. "Our message to the Baltic states - my message when we visit Georgia and Montenegro- will be the same: to our allies here in Eastern Europe, we are with you."

Ratas said in a statement that the US was vital to the security of the region.

"NATO's collective position of deterrence and defense has strengthened in the Baltic region and the USA is indispensable to ensuring the security of our immediate neighborhood, as well as all of Europe," Ratas said.

Lithuania keen for missiles
Lithuania said it was eager to have Patriot missiles when the US military displayed the system in the country earlier this month after using them in an exercise there. Anti-aircraft defense is seen as one of NATO's weaknesses in the Baltic states.
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