Poland ready to consider US bases on its territory: defense minister
WARSAW (AFP) Dec 05, 2003
Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski said Friday that Poland, a former Soviet satellite, was ready to consider allowing US bases on its territory if such a request was made.

"US Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith arrives in Poland Monday to discuss the issue of US bases overseas," defense ministry spokesman Colonel Adam Stasinski told AFP without elaborating.

Szmajdzinski said the government and President Aleksander Kwasniewski must also discuss the base issue with Poland's political parties and listen to public opinion.

Consultations should also be held with Poland's allies and neighbors, PAP news agency quoted him as saying.

"(US Defense Secretary) Donald Rumsfeld's deputy will visit us Monday. There will be talks, we'll see whether a proposal is made because so far there has not been one," Szmajdzinski added.

US President George W. Bush announced last month that the United States was stepping up discussions with key European and Asian allies about the overhaul of US global military deployments.

A senior US administration official said the president was not accelerating the process of revamping deployments, just moving ahead with planned consultations with key allies on where best to position US forces.

Bush came to office in January 2001 with plans to overhaul US forces to make them more mobile as well as revamp where they are stationed abroad.

"We will invite the full participation of our friends and allies" in the process, said the president, who has drawn fire for launching the US-led invasion of Iraq in March without explicit UN approval.

"A fully transformed and strengthened overseas force posture will underscore the commitment of the United States to effective collective action in the common cause of peace and liberty," he said.