Polish president ratifies defence deal with U.S.

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish President Andrzej Duda ratified a defence agreement with the United States on Monday that cements a greater U.S. troop presence in the country and he said Warsaw’s relations with Washington should not be affected by the U.S. election.

FILE PHOTO: Newly sworn-in President of Poland Andrzej Duda addresses Parliament in Warsaw, Poland August 6, 2020. Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta/File Photo via REUTERS

The deal was agreed between Duda and U.S. President Donald Trump over a year ago and aims to bolster the Western military presence on NATO’s eastern flank in reaction to an increased assertiveness by Russia.

Joe Biden’s election as the next U.S. president puts Warsaw in a potentially awkward position after it had set great store in its relationship with Trump while straining links with EU allies over democratic values.

During the election campaign, Biden had accused Trump of backing authoritarian leaders around the world, mentioning Poland among others.

He is expected to review Trump’s decision to withdraw thousands of troops from Germany, although U.S. officials have insisted the agreement with Poland was separate from that move.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said he hoped some of the troops will be moved to Poland.

Duda said he believed Warsaw’s relations with Washington were “entirely unrelated to current political events” in a reference to the U.S. election.

“In carrying out our tasks in the field of Polish politics and Polish-American relations, we act calmly, also by ratifying this agreement, waiting for the newly elected president of the United States to take his oath,” Duda said.

Under the agreement, a 1,000 U.S. troops would be stationed in Poland on top of several thousand already there as part of a NATO deployment.

Poland’s nationalist government allied with Duda shared a host of views with Trump on issues ranging from abortion, migration to climate change and coal mining.

The head of the National Security Bureau said in a statement the timing of Monday’s ratification by Duda was not related to the U.S. election.

“This is a normal ratification process. The President could only ratify the agreement after the parliament agreed to it and once the new legislation came into force,” Pawel Soloch said.

Reporting by Anna Koper and Joanna Plucinska; Editing by Angus MacSwan