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Bush to deliver address on national missile defense

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush plans to deliver a speech Tuesday outlining his rationale for a national missile defense plan, an administration official said Thursday. The speech will be the springboard for previously announced administration plans to consult with key allies in the spring in an effort to overcome skepticism and opposition.

President Bush in a CNN interview Wednesday.  

Bush decided not to press ahead and begin construction this year at an Alaska site that would be involved in the missile defense network; that decision was left over from the Clinton administration. Instead, Bush decided to wait for a review of military spending being conducted by Defense Secretary Donald Rumseld, who has told deputies he considers the missile shield a top priority.

Bush plans two trips to Europe over the next several months, and administration officials want to consult with key allies beforehand and make their case for the missile shield. The president's speech is the opening foray in making the case to the allies and the American people, the White House official said.

In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Bush discussed the issue.

"It's an issue that my administration is going to take very seriously, and that is the development of anti-ballistic missile systems that will make our world a safer world. And one of the things you'll see us doing here in the course of -- in due time -- is to begin consultations with others around the world as to what we mean by missile defense. I'm not prepared to do that yet, but we'll do that.

"And I had said during the course of the campaign, and I'm going to say it in the administration, it is important for us to use our resources and technologies to develop such a system so as to make threats to people around the world that, you know, as obsolete as possible, as irrelevant as possible. And that threat's not only in the Far East, but in the Middle East, as well, and to our own homeland," the president said.

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The White House

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