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Releads with meeting with Bush

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Wednesday September 13, 2006

Washington- US President George W Bush met with Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kyczynski at the White House Wednesday, thanking him for his country's supporting role in Iraq. Bush had not been scheduled to meet with Kyczynski, but dropped in on a meeting between the prime minister and US Vice President Dick Cheney, a White House official told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"The president thanked the prime minister for Poland's steadfast leadership in the struggle for peace and democracy in Iraq," the official said.

Kaczynski, the twin brother of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, made his first visit to Washington since taking office in July. He met earlier with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before heading to the White House.

Energy and mutual defence issues were expected to be among the topics on the agenda for Kaczynski's three-day trip in the United States. His meeting with Bush lasted five minutes.

The Pentagon has been considering the possibility of basing a US missile defence system in Poland, but Kaczynski said in a television interview before his White House meeting that it had not been a major topic.

"We are ready to talk about this, (but) so far no major talks or negotiations have been held," Kaczynski said through a translator on FOX news.

Kaczynski also rejected reports that Poland would withdraw its 900 soldiers stationed in Iraq.

"No such decision has ever been taken or considered," he said.

Rice praised the strong friendship between the two countries and thanked Poland for its efforts in Iraq.

"Poland has been a fierce fighter in the defence of freedom, both in the past and now in the present, as you have made it Poland's commitment to help others who are seeking freedom and democracy," Rice said.

Kaczynski emphasized the long historic ties between the two countries.

"Words that would best reflect our relations would be freedom, continuous fight for freedom, for the maintenance of freedom and for the progress of freedom through the global scene," Kaczynski said through a translator at the State Department.

Former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski strongly backed the March 2003 US invasion of Iraq, but how long Polish troops should remain there has been the source of a long-running debate in Poland.

Despite positive US-Polish relations, Polish officials regularly complain about US rules requiring Polish citizens to obtain a visa for travel to the United States. Citizens of Western European countries don't have to obtain the document.

Kaczynski will also travel to Chicago to meet with leaders of the midwest city's large Polish-American and Polish community before making his way to a US military base in Fort Worth, Texas.

While in Washington, the prime minister was also to meet with US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodeman and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, as well as Senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and Speaker Dennis Hastert, the top Republican in the House of Representatives.

He was scheduled to address the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington on Thursday.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur