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People's Daily Online

Poland continues push for permanent U.S. military base

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 10:53, March 15, 2019

WARSAW, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Poland will continue advocating for a permanent U.S. military base for a further year, Foreign Affairs Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said on Thursday in a foreign policy address.

"Poland's aspiration to become the core of NATO and U.S. military presence in the region is realistic," Czaputowicz told the Sejm (lower house of parliament) on Thursday in the presence of the Polish president and the prime minister.

"Strengthening the NATO military presence on the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance, especially including military cooperation between Poland and the U.S., remains our priority," Czaputowicz said.

Currently, Poland hosts up to 4,500 U.S. troops: a rotational U.S. brigade of about 3,500 men near the German border; and a U.S.-led multinational group of 1,000 soldiers from the UK, Croatia and Romania, based in the north-east.

Poland has been lobbying for a permanent U.S. military base on Polish soil, even offering to pay 2 billion U.S. dollars in costs.

On Wednesday, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood met with Polish defense officials in Warsaw to discuss the issue of the base and troop deployment. However, the talks were not likely to result in the deployment of a permanent U.S. military base this year, Pawel Soloch, head of the Polish National Security Bureau, told the Polish portal on Wednesday.

"This is more of a longer-term commitment to the type of presence that's already in Poland, this is not a new U.S. base as some people think," a source close to the negotiations between the Pentagon and Poland told the U.S. portal Defense One.

In his speech in Parliament on Thursday, Czaputowicz said that the Ministry of Defense's work on establishing a permanent U.S. base of strategic importance will continue for a further year.

Curtis Scaparotti, NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, also said Wednesday that "a mix" of permanent and rotational forces would be ideal in Poland, according to Defense One.

"I am perfectly content with the large forces that are rotating today," Scaparrotti told the Armed Services Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.

But Scaparotti also said there was a role for a permanent headquarters, which would manage the flow of rotational troops and be effective at establishing relationships with allies in the region.

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