Associated Press
March 10, 2008

President Bush said Monday the United States will help modernize the Polish military as part of an expected agreement on putting a new U.S. missile defense system in the country.

The two countries have been negotiating Polish demands for help in upgrading its military in exchange for allowing the missile defense interceptors. After meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in the Oval Office, Bush said the United States recognizes the need for Polish forces to be modernized, and “we’re responding.”

“There is a commitment to a system that respects Poland’s sovereignty and that will ensure that the people of Poland will not be subjected to any undue security risks,” Bush said. “This is the kind of issue that all kinds of rumors and worries can grow out of and we just want to assure people that it’s necessary and at the same time there will be this modernization effort that will take place.”

U.S. negotiators, led by acting Assistant Secretary of State Stephen Mull, have tried to seal the deal with Poland by opening a separate negotiating track on the Polish demands. They have sought to leave promises vague.

But Tusk seemed pleased with what he heard from Bush, saying it was significant that the missile defense program and the U.S.-aided modernization of the Polish military would be considered all in “one package.”

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