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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Poland Set To Press For Details On NATO

WARSAW -- Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski set out for the United States on Friday to seek firmer details of his country's NATO entry now the shadow of Russia's presidential elections has passed.


Kwasniewski meets President Bill Clinton on Monday -- the first leader from Central and Eastern Europe to do so since Boris Yeltsin's victory over Communist Gennady Zyuganov -- and the implications of the vote are high on their agenda.


Poland wants to get into NATO quickly but progress has been on ice this year, partly out of Western fears of harming Yeltsin's chances in polls where both candidates denounced the Western alliance's growth as a threat to Russia's security.


Kwasniewski welcomed the victory of Yeltsin, with whom understanding over a new expanded European security structure based on NATO has a better chance of being reached.


"Yeltsin's election is a positive development in creating a new security system," he told reporters at Warsaw airport.


Poland, which escaped Soviet domination in 1989 and borders Russia, craves confirmation it will be among the first new members and wants a better idea of when it can enter.


"After these talks we will certainly know more about the possible date of our admission," Kwasniewski said.


NATO's decisions are not due until December at the earliest, but Polish analysts say before U.S. November presidential elections is a good time to lobby politicians in a country where around 10 million people have Polish origins.


The ex-communist Kwasniewski is to meet Polish-American leaders who mostly backed his opponent, former Solidarity chief Lech Walesa, in presidential elections last November and will persuade them he stands for the same foreign policy goals.


During the July 6 to 10 visit, Kwasniewski on Tuesday holds talks with Defense Secretary William Perry.


Poland needs new multi-purpose fighter aircraft for its air force and U.S. F-16s or F-18s are leading contenders. Poland is seeking U.S. involvement in its defense program and industry.


"I will discuss cooperation in the arms industry -- NATO entry means we need to re-equip our army. We want the Americans to be a partner in big projects in Poland," he said.