WARSAW - President Donald Trump opened his second visit to Europe at a Polish castle Thursday, welcomed by President Andrzej Duda and a vigorous handshake. The leaders then retreated to a room decorated with red walls for their private talks.
Afterward, they spoke to reporters.
Duda welcomed Trump to Poland and said he and Trump discussed NATO, strengthening Eastern Europe as well as ways to increase Poland’s security.
They also discussed shipments of LNG gas from the U.S. to Poland; the first shipment arrived in Poland last month — with Trump joking about raising the price.
Trump noted that Polish-Americans “came out in droves” to vote in the last U.S. election. He said the U.S. and Poland have never been closer. He said U.S. and Polish soldiers have fought side by side, and that Poland has made welcome 5,000 U.S. troops stationed there. Later, in answer to a reporter’s question, Duda said Poland and U.S. will discuss specifics of those troop deployments at a later date.
Trump also made a point that Poland has met its NATO financing commitment. “And I appreciate that very much,” Trump added.
Trump, in his first public comments since North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time, declined to say how the U.S. might respond, saying he was weighing it and that he does “not draw red lines.”
“It’s a shame that they’re behaving this way,” Trump said of North Korea’s leaders. “But they are behaving in a very, very dangerous manner, and something will have to be done about it.”
After their opening remarks, Trump and Duda took four questions. They were asked about whether the U.S. and Poland would enter into more contracts for LNG and when. Trump said the U.S. is an exporter of energy and is open to signing more contracts. Duda answered by saying he and Trump would not be the ones signing those contracts, they would be signed by companies. He also said Poland could be a hub for LNG entering Eastern Europe.
The last question involved Russia and whether Trump would say definitively if Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.
Trump answered that he thought it was Russia, “and it was probably others as well” and that "nobody really knows for sure."
He accused former President Barack Obama, who knew of the meddling as early as August, of not doing anything to stop it because he thought Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, would win.
After the handful of questions, the press conference ended so that Trump could deliver a keynote address to the Poles from Krasinski Square, the site of a monument commemorating the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis.
Earlier Thursday Duda said Trump’s visit to Warsaw strengthens Poland’s position in the European Union.
Trump’s visit also strengthened Poland’s defense. Wednesday night, the U.S. agreed to sell Patriot missile defense systems to Poland in a memorandum, Poland’s Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said.
“A memorandum was signed tonight that the U.S. government has agreed to sell Poland Patriot missiles in the most modern configuration,” Macierewicz said in a news conference broadcast on public television Thursday morning.
“I am glad that I can pass on this information on the day of President’s Trump visit to Warsaw,” Macierewicz added.
Trump arrived Wednesday in Warsaw where the White House said he would showcase his commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in a speech and in meetings with a group of nations closest to Russia on his way to the G20 summit in Germany Friday and Saturday.
Trump is also expected to deliver a keynote address to the Poles from Krasinski Square, the site of a monument commemorating the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis.
He'll also be meeting with the heads of a dozen countries bordered by the Baltic, Adriatic and Black seas known as the Three Seas Initiative. The group aims to expand and modernize energy and trade with the goal of reducing the region's dependence on Russian energy.
“This is the second foreign visit by president Trump and it starts in Poland. This shows we are a country that matters and it strengthens our position in the European Union,” Duda said Thursday on public radio.
In March Poland said it expected to sign a deal worth up to $7.6 billion with U.S. firm Raytheon to buy eight Patriot missile defense systems by the end of the year. Warsaw sees the deal as central to a thorough modernization of its armed forces by 2023.