U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with governors and members of Congress at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with governors and members of Congress at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Trump says U.S. considering permanent military presence in Poland

Wed, Sep. 19, 2018
WASHINGTON – 19 September 2018: President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the United States is considering a request from Poland for a permanent U.S. military presence in the fellow NATO country, acknowledging that he shares Poland's concerns about possible Russian aggression.

Poland has repeatedly requested a permanent U.S. military presence on its soil, offering up to $2 billion in funding for such a base.

The United States currently rotates troops through Poland temporarily but permanently stationing forces there would be expensive because of costs that can include housing for families, schools and hospitals.

Moscow expressed concern in May over reports about Poland's request, saying NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders undermined stability in Europe.

On Monday, Polish President Andrzej Duda made a direct appeal to Trump for a permanent U.S. base when they met in Washington. Duda said at their joint news conference that he would name the base "Fort Trump," and that it would serve as a bulwark against what he considers a threat from Russia.

Trump said he shared Duda's concern about Russia but that Russia respects strength and that the United States has strengthened its military under his leadership.

"I am with the president. I feel that he is right," he said.

Meeting Duda earlier in the Oval Office, Trump said Poland's request was under consideration.

"We're looking at it very seriously, I know Poland likes the idea very much, and it's something that we are considering, yes," he said.

Poland joined NATO in 1999 along with Hungary and the Czech Republic, and since then other former communist states, including Baltic republics bordering Russia, have joined despite Moscow’s strong opposition.

Warsaw could offer up to $2 billion in funding for a U.S. military base, according to a Polish Defense Ministry proposal reported by Polish media. A government source in Poland confirmed to Reuters that such a proposal had been made.

Trump and Duda also expressed shared concerns about Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline which they said could make Europe overly reliant on Moscow for energy and expose it to the risks of what Duda called "political blackmail" with shipments.

But Trump said the United States was not looking to sanction companies that participated in the project with Russia. "We just think it's very unfortunate for the people of Germany that Germany is paying billions and billions of dollars a year for their energy to Russia," he said.

Trump also said the United States was considering a visa waiver program for Poland.
 
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