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Polish president becomes latest leader to visit Donald Trump as allies consider possible return

Polish president becomes latest leader to visit Donald Trump as allies consider possible return


NEW YORK (AP) Former President Donald Trump met in New York on Wednesday with Polish President Andrzej Duda, the latest in a series of meetings with foreign leaders as Europe prepares for the possibility of a second term of Trump.

The presumptive Republican nominee hosted Duda at Trump Tower, where the two discussed the war in Ukraine and Duda's efforts to increase defense spending by NATO members, according to a Trump campaign statement. Duda, who has long expressed admiration for Trump, is also a strong supporter of Ukraine and has encouraged Washington to provide more aid to kyiv amid the ongoing Russian invasion. This funding was blocked by Trump's allies in Congress.

Upon his arrival, Trump congratulated the Polish president, saying: “He did a fantastic job and he is my friend.

We had four great years together, Trump added. We stayed behind Poland until the end.

Duda is the latest foreign leader to meet with Trump in the weeks following the Republican nomination. U.S. allies around the world were caught off guard by Trump's surprise victory in 2016, forcing them to scramble to build relationships with a president who often attacked the long-standing treaties and alliances they valued . Arranging meetings with him during the 2024 campaign suggests they don't want to fall behind again.

Even as he stands trial on one of four criminal indictments against him, Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden are engaged in a rematch that most observers predict will be extremely close in November.

While some in Poland feared the visit would damage the country's relationship with Biden, Sen. Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, a Biden ally and a major voice for his party on foreign affairs, said such meetings were logical.

The elections are close, he said. If I were a foreign leader and there was precedent for meeting with nominated or soon-to-be-appointed candidates, I probably would too.

Murphy noted that former President Barack Obama went on an extensive international tour and met with foreign leaders during his first run for the White House. So did Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who challenged Obama in 2012 and whose trip included a stop in Warsaw, the Polish capital.

Duda's visit comes a week after Trump met with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, another NATO member and leading proponent of support for Ukraine, at the former president's Florida estate.

And last month, Trump hosted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbn, an autocrat who has the closest relations with Russia among European Union countries. Orban shared a montage of footage from the visit on his Instagram feed, with an image of him and his team meeting with Trump and the president's former aides in a scene that looked like an official bilateral meeting.

Trump also met briefly in February with Javier Milei, Argentina's fiery right-wing populist president who ran a Trump-inspired campaign, complete with Make Argentina Great Again red hats. Milei enthusiastically hugged Trump backstage at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, according to a video posted by a Trump campaign aide.

Biden administration officials have been careful not to publicly intervene in foreign leaders' meetings with Trump, acknowledging that he has a real chance of winning the race.

Although some officials have privately expressed frustration with such meetings, they are aware that any criticism would open the United States to accusations of hypocrisy as top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meet frequently foreign opposition figures at various forums in the United States. and abroad.

Security and political officials monitor the travel plans of foreign officials visiting the United States, but generally have no say in where they go or who they meet with, official says of the administration who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the protocol.

Trump is returning to his hometown this week for the start of his criminal trial on hush money charges, which has significantly limited his ability to travel and campaign. While in town, their aides planned a series of events that began Tuesday evening when Trump, after the court adjourned, stopped at a Harlem bodega where a man was killed to denounce the crime and lambasting the prosecutor who made him the state's first former president. American history must undergo a criminal trial.

Duda, a right-wing populist who once proposed naming a military base in his country Fort Trump, described Wednesday's dinner as a private meeting among friends at Trump's former residence while he was in town for meetings. meetings at the United Nations.

I was invited by Mr. Donald Trump to his private apartment, Duda told reporters, saying it was a normal practice when a country has good relations with another country to want those relations to be as strong as possible with representatives from different parts of the country. the political scene.

He described a friendly relationship with Trump built over years of collaboration.

We know each other as people. Like two, I can say in a way, my friends, said Duda, whose term ends in 2025.

Duda's visit comes as House Republicans argue over a $95 billion foreign aid bill that would provide new funding to Ukraine, including money for the military to replace its dwindling arms supplies.

Many of Trump's allies in the House are fiercely opposed to aid to Ukraine, even as the country warns it is in trouble in the face of a new Russian offensive. Trump said he might be open to help in the form of a loan.

Like Cameron, Duda's efforts to push the United States to approve additional aid put him in common cause with Biden, who has been struggling for six months to release additional funds.

One area that Trump and Duda agree on regarding the conflict is the desire to push NATO members to increase their defense spending. Duda called on other alliance members to increase spending to 3% of gross domestic product as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine. This would represent a significant increase from the current commitment of 2% by 2024.

Trump, in a surprising break with American precedent, has long criticized the Western alliance and has threatened not to defend member countries that do not meet this spending target. This threat strikes at the heart of the alliance's Article 5, which states that any attack against one NATO member will be considered an attack against all.

In February, Trump went even further, recounting that he once told leaders that he would encourage Russia to do whatever it wanted to members who, in his words, were delinquent.

Trump's campaign said the two men discussed the NATO proposal during the meeting, which lasted two and a half hours.

I have never spoken with President Donald Trump about my proposal to increase defense spending by NATO countries from 2 to 3% of GDP, but I think his approach will be positive, Duda said before their meeting .

The two also discussed Israel and the Middle East, Trump's 2017 trip to Warsaw and many other topics related to world peace, the campaign said in its statement, which described the men as great friends.

The visit drew mixed reactions in Poland, where fears about Russia are high and Duda's friendly relationship with Trump has been a source of controversy.

Centrist Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Duda's political opponent, criticized the dinner but expressed hope that Duda would use it as an opportunity to raise the issue of clearly siding with the Western world, democracy and of Europe in this Ukrainian-Russian conflict. .

Duda, for his part, said he was not worried since presidents regularly meet with various politicians during their foreign trips.

It's a regular practice, he said. There is nothing extraordinary here.


Scislowska reported from Warsaw. Associated Press writers Matthew Lee, Zeke Miller and Seung Min Kim in Washington contributed to this report.




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