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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Austria Peeved by Outside Pressures

VIENNA -- Austria was neither the 51st U.S. state nor a branch of Russia, the foreign minister said Wednesday.

Ursula Plassnik's comment, made after an EU Council of Ministers meeting, was related to remarks last week by Norbert Darabos, the country's defense minister, about the planned U.S. missile defense shield in Central Europe.

Darabos said in a newspaper interview that he did not believe there was a credible threat that would justify building the anti-missile system. He urged U.S. officials to seek a compromise with Russia, which fiercely opposes the plan.

The United States countered that Darabos' comments reflected Cold War thinking. Washington says the system, which would include 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system based in the Czech Republic, would help guard against a potential threat from Iran.

"Austria is not the 51st U.S. state, but also not a branch of Russia," Plassnik said, according to a statement.

Plassnik said she was not criticizing Darabos, but that his comments had unleashed "enthusiastic media reactions" in Russia that needed clarification.