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Polish Leader Goes to US Summit, No Talks Planned with Obama

Polish President Andrzej Duda delivers his speech during the official event of the Day of Hungarian-Polish Friendship in the building of Vigado of Budapest, Hungary, March 19, 2016.

Poland's president is traveling to Washington for a security summit but has no meeting scheduled with President Barack Obama. Observers in Poland say controversial government policies may be the reason.

President Andrzej Duda's schedule, released Tuesday, includes no meetings with Obama or any key U.S. politicians.

Poland's top security official, Pawel Soloch, said that Duda is "essentially'' prepared for a meeting with Obama, but that it would be up to the U.S. side to organize it.

"Barack Obama's rejection of Andrzej Duda's request for a meeting is the biggest failure of Polish diplomacy'' under the conservative ruling party that gained power in November elections, commentator Jedrzej Bielecki wrote in Rzeczpospolita, a major daily newspaper based in Warsaw.

But Poland's leader isn't alone. Among dozens of world leaders expected to attend, the White House so far has announced only three will have one-on-one meetings with Obama: the leaders of China, Japan and of South Korea.

Before he attends the Nuclear Security Summit to be held Thursday and Friday, Duda is to meet with U.S. media to defend Polish government policies which have sparked street protests and drawn censure from European Union leaders and institutions, as well as from some U.S. senators and media. They say that Poland's democracy and rule of law are threatened.

Vowing "good change,'' the Law and Justice party is implementing sweeping social and political changes, including wider surveillance powers for the police and new legislation that has paralyzed the country's top court, the Constitutional Tribunal.

A staunch U.S. ally that has contributed troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, Poland is counting on Washington's understanding, especially ahead of the NATO summit to be held in Warsaw in July, where Poland wants to obtain greater security guarantees for the region.