Tusk Looks for U.S. Army Aid

WARSAW -- Poland's prime minister said over the weekend that he intended to sound out officials in Washington on the U.S. approach to helping modernize Polish armed forces in return for accepting a missile defense base.

"I'm not going to Washington to make declarations, but rather to hear whether Poland's expectations -- which are not excessive -- as to U.S. help in modernizing the Polish armed forces are being treated seriously or not," Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters Saturday.

"I am going there to listen to the Americans, not to make declarations to them."

Tusk heads on Saturday to Washington, where he is to meet President George W. Bush to discuss U.S. hopes of building an interceptor base in Poland. The base would be part of a missile defense system the United States says is needed to protect itself and its European allies from possible attacks from Iran. Talks on the issue opened last year.

On Friday, U.S. officials said they made a good start in talks with Poles on a possible deal.

Deputy Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, who took part in the talks, held in Warsaw, said they had "opened a separate negotiating path" on Polish hopes to bring its armed forces up to date, in view of current security challenges and threats.