Tusk and Bush hail breakthrough in missile deal
March 11, 2008
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk met with President George W. Bush in Washington on Monday and both leaders declared progress on a missile defense deal.
Bush said the U.S. would give assistance to modernize the Polish military as part of the U.S. plan to place interceptor missiles on Polish territory. The Polish missile base is part of a wider American missile defense shield - which will also include a radar base in the Czech Republic - designed to protect the U.S. and Europe from missile attacks from “rogue” states like Iran.
The two leaders called the meeting a success, but stressed that no final deal had been reached. They were also very short on specifics.
Tusk said that Bush had agreed that the missile defense base and U.S. assistance in the modernization of the Polish military would be considered as "one package."
During their joint press conference, Bush said, "The United States recognizes the need for Polish forces to be modernized," and insisted the U.S. would have a concrete plan for this "before my watch is over."
Tusk told reporters that, “We ended speculation about the intentions of both sides. Our joint intention is cooperation.” He said the great breakthrough of the meeting was that now Bush “precisely understands our expectations.” Both men said the modernization of Poland’s military was in the best interests of both countries.
The Tusk Government has made clear that Poland is looking to acquire air defenses against short- to medium-range missiles as part of its deal with the U.S. Negotiators have asked for Patriot 3 or THAAD missiles and have identified 17 needs of the Polish military that the U.S. could help meet.
Bush also thanked Tusk for Poland’s support in the Iraq and Afghanistan war efforts.
In a related note: during Tusk’s flight on a commercial jet liner to New York on Sunday, someone claiming to be an Al Qaeda operative called in to say there was a bomb on the plane.
The plane landed safely, Tusk was delayed for 40 minutes, and other passengers were delayed more than three hours as officials searched the plane for a bomb.
The incident turned out to be a hoax, but it highlights the need for the Polish state to replace its very old fleet of government jets.