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President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the United States plans to move some troops from Germany to Poland, speaking as he hosted Polish leader Andrzej Duda at the White House just four days ahead of Polands election.
“Some will be coming home and some will be going to other places,” Trump said. “Poland would be one of those other places.”
Duda called it a “very reasonable decision” and said he had asked Trump not to withdraw US troops from Europe “because the security of Europe is very important to me”.
Asked what kind of a message the redeployment sends to Russia, Trump said: “I think it sends a very strong signal.”
Dudas meeting with Trump came just four days before voters in Poland decide on Sunday whether to give him a second term, and the timing of the meeting was criticised by his opponents as an attempt to gain a pre-election windfall.
Trump, who is seeking to demonstrate that the coronavirus pandemic – which has damaged his own re-election chances – is abating was lavish with his praise of Duda.
The meeting was Trumps first with a foreign leader since the Covid-19 pandemic, which has left more than 121,000 people dead in the United States, hit in March.
“President Duda is doing very well in Poland,” Trump said following the third Oval Office meeting between the two men. “Hes doing a terrific job.”
Responding to critics of the timing, Trump said “the people of Poland think the world of him.”
“I dont think he needs my help,” Trump said.
The main aim of the Polish side ahead of the visit was a boost in US military assistance – a constant demand from Warsaw, particularly since Russias annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Trump did not provide any figures for how many US troops would be shifted from Germany to Poland.
He also repeated his frequent accusation that Germany is not paying its fair share of NATOs defense budget.
According to the Polish newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, 30 US F-16 fighter jets stationed in Germany could be moved to Poland along with some 2,000 troops.
NATO promised Russia in 1997 not to set up permanent bases in the former eastern bloc.
As tensions have grown however, the alliance has rotated troops through frontline countries.
Even though the US troops would still be rotated under any scenario, Polish officials have raised the prospect of a more permanent US presence – perhaps in a facility paid for by Warsaw dubbed “Fort Trump”.
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer alluded to the agreement with Russia in an interview with the Atlantic Council on Wednesday.
“If for example US troops in Europe are moved to Poland, this must be done with the NATO-Russia pact in mind,” she said. “We must not lose sight of this point.”
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