U.S., Poland ratify enhanced defense agreement

Polish President Andrzej Duda signed an enhanced U.S.-Poland defense cooperation agreement on Monday, saying the union should grow despite political changes.

The agreement calls for establishment of about 5,500 U.S. troops on Polish soil on a revolving basis, and the forward deployment of the U.S. Army's V Corps in Poznan, Poland.

It reinforces the U.S. military presence in Eastern Europe and provides for expansion of Poland's defense infrastructure and an increase in joint military exercises, Poland's Presidential Palace announced on Monday.

Speaking at the ratification ceremony in Warsaw, Duda referred to the long history of mutual military cooperation, dating to Gen. Thaddeus Kosciusko's involvement in the American Revolution, through 20th century wars in Europe.

"I am thinking of the soldiers who died helping Poles in the fight against the Nazi invaders during World War II [and] the American airmen who died providing weapons and equipment, for example, to Warsaw insurgents and Polish partisans," Duda said.

"I also think of boys of Polish origin and Polish surnames, who both during World War II, and also later, when Poland was behind the Iron Curtain, died in the uniforms of the American army, very often fighting for the freedom of other nations," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak agreed to the deal in 2019.

It came as President Donald Trump, with whom Duda has had a warm relationship, announced a reduction of U.S. troops in Germany. The agreement was finally negotiated in August 2020.

"In American politics, the last days and the last weeks are a very hot time, as we all know," Duda said of the upcoming change of administration in Washington.

"I would like today's ratification of the agreement to be a symbol of contemporary Polish-American relations -- calm, independent of all political storms and all political processes," Duda said. "We act calmly, ratifying this agreement, waiting for the newly elected president of the United States to swear an oath in front of the nation at the right moment and take office," he said.

Polish president fails to mention Biden in US speech
Warsaw (AFP) Nov 9, 2020 - Polish President Andrzej Duda, a close ally of Donald Trump, failed to mention US president-elect Joe Biden by name Monday during a speech on a US defence pact.

Duda highlighted close US-Polish defence ties through history and referred to "a very heated time indeed" in US politics in recent days but said relations could weather "any storms".

"We are ratifying this agreement today and throughout this process we are also waiting for the newly elected US president to take his oath and office," he said at the ceremony.

Duda, who is backed by the ruling populist right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, has come under fire from government opponents for his half-hearted response Saturday to Biden's victory.

"Congratulations to Joe Biden for a successful presidential campaign. As we await the nomination by the Electoral College, Poland is determined to upkeep high-level and high-quality PL-US strategic partnership for an even stronger alliance," he wrote.

Duda has cultivated a strong personal relationship with Trump and visited him at the White House in June -- the first foreign leader to do so since White House coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased.

During the visit, which came just days before Duda's re-election, Trump hailed the Polish leader saying he was doing "a terrific job".

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