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Warsaw, Washington agree on locations for new U.S. troops in Poland - minister

Warsaw, Washington agree on locations for new U.S. troops in Poland - minister
FILE PHOTO: Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak speaks during U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's arrival in Warsaw, Poland, February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo -
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KACPER PEMPEL(Reuters)
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By Marcin Goclowski

WARSAW (Reuters) – Warsaw and Washington have agreed on six locations for new U.S. troops to be stationed in Poland, the country’s Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Friday, a day after Donald Trump cancelled a trip to the eastern European nation.

Trump called off his weekend trip due to a hurricane bearing down on Florida, with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to take his place at events in Poland to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the start of World War Two.

“We have agreed on six locations, we talked about a seventh location,” Blaszczak said later at a joint news conference with U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has come to Poland for the anniversary.

In June, Poland signed a deal to increase the American military presence on its soil to counter Russia’s growing assertiveness since its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Poland has a border in the northeast with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, where Moscow has deployed advanced nuclear-capable Iskander missiles.

The military deal signed in June will increase the number of non-permanent U.S. troops in Poland by 1,000. There are on average about 4,500 U.S. troops in Poland on rotation as part of NATO forces.

“Poland has been an outstanding partner of the U.S. and NATO, spending more than 2% of GDP on defence,” Bolton told the conference. He added that Trump’s visit will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Apart from declarations about military cooperation, some analysts had expected Trump to comment on energy and technology cooperation, and possibly on easing U.S. visa requirements for Poles.

An aide to Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Thursday that Trump may visit in the coming months.

“Probably some part of the declarations, which only the U.S. president can make, will be delayed (…) and probably some of the declarations will wait for his visit to Warsaw,” minister at Polish president’s chancellery Krzysztof Szczerski told public radio.

He did not reply directly to questions about relaxing the visa regime, saying only that there are talks about Polish-US “cooperation”.

(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; additional reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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