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Polish defence minister in Washington, talks permanent U.S. military presence

Staff Writer |
The permanent deployment of U.S. troops to Poland was Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak's main talking point during meetings at the Capitol and the Pentagon on Friday.

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During his trip to the US, Błaszczak thanked Congressman Chris Smith for a letter, signed with six other members of U.S. Congress, in which they argued for permanent US troop presence in Poland.

Błaszczak said U.S. troops improved Polish and European security “and is a response to aggressive Russian policy”.

The US has already deployed thousands of troops to Poland and the Baltic states under a NATO plan to bolster the alliance's eastern flank which followed Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

The Polish defence minister said that “the U.S. army twice in the previous century saved Europe from ruin – during the First and Second World Wars – and... it is better to act preventatively and boost our defence capabilities, all the more so that Poland is prepared to make an effort in this matter”.

Błaszczak said that the fact that Poland and the US were working to determine if US troops should be based permanently in Poland meant there was “a real chance” for that to happen.

“If there were no chance … it would have finished with general talks … [but] today we are talking in detail,” the defence minister added.

Błaszczak also said that talks at the Pentagon were about Poland purchasing military equipment, but he declined to give any details.

Błaszczak is expected to join Polish President Andrzej Duda when he makes his first official visit to the White House for talks with Donald Trump Tuesday.

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