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U.S. requests radar base upgrades

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The system would use orbiting satellites and radar tracking stations

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LONDON, England -- Britain and Denmark have received formal requests from Washington to upgrade radar bases as part of the U.S. National Missile Defense project.

The U.S. wants permission to use Thule air base, northwest of Greenland, which belongs to NATO-member Denmark, and the Fylingdales base in northern England.

A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon would inform MPs of the request on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier in December, Hoon told MPs that any US request to use Fylingdales for the system, which would intend to destroy incoming missiles, would be considered "very seriously" and would be agreed only "if the security of the UK and the alliance would ultimately be enhanced."

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has reacted positively to the plan, calling it a "project of peace" which would provide protection to Washington and its allies against attack from "rogue states."

But he said the system should be built in cooperation with Russia.

He said the Danish parliament and the Greenland authorities would study the proposal closely before responding.

In June, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty in order to build a missile defence system, which is prohibited under ABM. (Full story)

The system, dubbed "Son of Star Wars" after an initiative pioneered by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, depends on intercepting an incoming missile with another missile.

Greenland's new home rule premier Hans Enoksen has been invited to join Denmark's Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller in talks with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington later this week, Greenland authorities said in a statement.

Greenland won partial home rule in 1979, while Denmark retained control over foreign and security policy.



Reuters contributed to this report.


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