Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski to make final visit to U.S.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski is making a final visit to share with President George W. Bush memories of the close alliance he forged with the United States during his 10 years in office.

Kwasniewski won favor in Washington by sending Polish troops to Iraq, a point that Bush was certain to underscore during their late-morning meeting on Wednesday.

Bush planned to host a lunch for Kwasniewski. Also on the Polish leader's schedule was a meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney. Kwasniewski attended a dinner Tuesday with diplomats and European experts from Washington think tanks.

During Kwasniewski's two terms in office, covering the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Bush, the former Warsaw Pact nation joined NATO and the European Union and established close ties with Washington. Bush is especially grateful for Poland's troop contribution to Iraq. About 1,500 Poles are now serving there; it is not clear whether the newly elected government will withdraw them, although its predecessor had planned to withdraw them early next year.

Kwasniewski was expected to seek further U.S. support for the modernization of Poland's armed forces and more investment in its economy. He also planned to push for an easing of travel restrictions for Poles, some of whom believe their country's involvement in Iraq should earn them visa-free travel to America.

Also on the agenda Wednesday, according to Kwasniewski aide Andrzej Majkowski, was Poland's strained relations with its eastern neighbors Russia and Belarus, reports the AP. I.L.

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