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International News
Trump, Duda sign declaration to house thousand additional US troops in Poland
Washington, Jun 13 (Sputnik) US President Donald Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda during talks at the White House revealed a new joint effort to significantly bolster cooperation between the two countries on various fronts such as defense and energy which includes sending 1,000 more American troops near Russia. The two leaders signed a joint declaration at the White House on Wednesday that calls for creating an enhanced defense posture on Russia''s doorstep including boosting troop levels in Poland while aiming to support energy diversification in the European region.

The Kremlin has repeatedly warned the United States and NATO that a military buildup on Russia''s borders is a reckless and provocative move that could escalate tensions and lead to an unnecessary confrontation. Last year, Duda offered to pay around $2 billion for an American military base in Poland and suggested that it be named "Fort Trump" in an apparent attempt to soothe the US leader''s ego. Although the name Fort Trump was not officially invoked, the two leaders unveiled some details about a US presence in Poland. Part of the joint declaration Trump and Duda signed on Wednesday includes a commitment by Poland to build infrastructure in the country to support the US military presence of about 1,000 American troops. "As stated in the joint declaration, the United States and Poland continue to enhance our security cooperation.

Poland will still provide basing and infrastructure to support military presence of about 1,000 American troops. The Polish government will build these projects at no cost to the United States. The Polish government will pay for this," Trump said during a joint press conference alongside Duda in the Rose Garden on Wednesday. In earlier remarks in the Oval Office, Trump said no additional US troops would be deployed to Europe, but instead would be transferred from Germany to Poland. Duda expressed hope that the US military presence in Poland will gradually increase. "There will be more American troops in Poland, and it is going to be enhanced cooperation, it is going to be an enduring presence, which, hopefully, will increase gradually in terms of the number of troops and also in terms of infrastructure," Duda said. Moreover, Trump noted that the Polish government has ordered 32 US F-35 fighter jets.

The US president even scheduled a F-35 flyover over the White House for Duda to see. Former US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Chas Freeman told Sputnik that the move fulfills no US military requirement and is purely the result of effective flattery by Duda. "The move of combat troops to Poland is both a waste of American military manpower and a needless provocation to Russia," Freeman said on Wednesday. "One can only imagine the American reaction to a comparable Russian deployment of combat troops to northern Mexico." Poland also made a commitment to import more energy from the United States by signing an agreement for 2 billion cubic meters of US liquid natural gas (LNG), the US president said. "Today, our nations just signed a contract for an additional 2 billion cubic meters [of LNG] worth approximately $8 billion," Trump said.

Trump said the United States supports Poland''s Baltic pipeline project, adding that it would help European countries diversify energy sources in the region. Trump criticized Germany''s support for Russia''s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and said he is considering a plan to impose sanctions on the project "Germany is making a tremendous mistake by relying so heavily on the pipeline, it''s a mistake for Germany. But again, Germany''s running their affairs, and they do just fine. I was critical. I''ve been critical of it. It''s a tremendous amount of their energy that will supplied by that pipeline," Trump told reporters. Besides the LNG deal, Trump said the two leaders signed a bilateral agreement on civil nuclear cooperation. Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture of Russian energy giant Gazprom and five European companies.

It aims to deliver 55 billion cubic meters (1.9 trillion cubic feet) of Russian natural gas annually directly to Germany and other European countries through a twin pipeline laid at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The pipeline project has been welcomed by some countries in Europe and opposed by the others, who have raised concerns over alleged danger of Europe''s dependence on Russia and the subsequent diminished transit role of Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly reiterated that the pipeline is a purely commercial project. On the diplomatic front, Trump highlighted Poland has met the criteria for entering the Visa Waiver Program and mentioned the country could be included into the program in three months.

"I also want to congratulate Poland on its progress on meeting US criteria for entry into the Visa Waiver Program," Trump said. Duda said both leaders also signed an agreement to prevent and combat serious crimes, which moves Poland to the Visa Waiver Program. Trump said the administration would make the decision with respect to Poland joining the Visa Waiver Program "in the next, probably, 90 days." During the press conference, after Duda went on a mini-rant against Russia, Trump was immediately asked for his perspective on relations between Moscow and Warsaw. "I hope that Poland is going to have a great relationship with Russia, I think it''s possible, I really do," Trump told reporters. The US president during the press conference also said he may visit Poland in September. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg later on Wednesday welcomed the United States'' plans to increase its military presence in Poland, underscoring that this move indicates Washington''s commitment to the trans-Atlantic relationship.

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