US vice president praises Polish-US alliance
US Vice-President Mike Pence met with Polish head of state Andrzej Duda on Monday, on the second day of his visit. At a press conference after the meeting, Pence said Poland's alliance with the US was stronger than ever before.
Pence also announced that Poland was nearing the fulfilment of criteria needed for its inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Programme, which would abolish entry visas for US-travelling Poles.
On Sunday, Pence attended observances marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.
At the press conference, held with Duda, Pence said his talks with the Polish president concerned the raising of the US military presence in Poland, the 5G network and the waiver of US visas for Poles. Pence said final decisions on the stationing of additional US forces in Poland could still be taken this year.
Pence said that under presidents Trump and Duda the US-Polish alliance was stronger than ever before, and said that US visas for Poles will be abolished as soon as Poland meets the required criteria (less than 3 percent of visa refusals). He added that this could happen towards the end of this month.
Duda said the talks with Pence also covered cooperation in energy and defence, and voiced hope for the positive development of partnership in both fields. In this context, he said that he had informed Pence about the ongoing expansion of Poland's north-western LNG terminal in Swinoujscie, and about plans to erect a floating gas terminal.
At this juncture, Pence pointed out that Poland has already signed agreements for supplies of over 7 billion cubic metres of US LNG. He also gave his assurance that the US will continue to cooperate with Poland in energy, including nuclear energy, and thanked Poland for its courage in opposing the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline project along the Baltic seabed.
Pence also praised Poland for raising its defence spending to the NATO-required 2 percent of GDP, and stressed that Trump's and Duda's leadership made NATO stronger. He added that NATO was the strongest military alliance in the world and able to curb any adverse undertakings by Russia.
Commenting on the US-Polish alliance, Pence said that the two countries will never be divided as they were not only allies but family.
Duda said he and Pence also discussed US aid in the modernisation of the Polish armed forces, and in this connection highlighted Poland's recent purchase of Patriot air-defence missiles and the HIMARS missile system.
Asked about his stance towards Russia's prospective inclusion in the G7 group, Duda said the matter was "very complicated," and observed that Russia's aggression against Georgia in 2008 and Crimea in 2014 had created "a situation that should never have come into being in Europe."
Duda said Russia's conduct could not be ignored and in his opinion prevented a "business as usual" treatment of Russia.
Pence came to Warsaw in place of US President Donald Trump, who decided to remain in his country owing to hurricane threats in Florida. The hurricane approaching Florida - nicknamed Dorian - is supposedly one of the biggest in the region's history.