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Monocolumn: Obama’s Road Trip – The UK, Ireland, France… And Poland?

Barbecues and ping-pong: President Barack Obama’s week-long European trip has hardly been a standard one, not least for the choice of destinations.

Monocle
Monocle on May 26, 2011.

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

Barbecues and ping-pong: President Barack Obama’s week-long European trip has hardly been a standard one, not least for the choice of destinations. Following visits to long-term US allies Ireland and the UK (today he heads to France), Team Obama touches down in Poland on Friday for a two day trip. It may be an unorthodox addition to the itinerary, but Poland could possibly prove to be the most crucial stop on his trip.

US-Polish defence cooperation will reportedly be one of the hottest issues during Obama’s first visit to Poland. Despite an earlier decision by Washington to put Bush-era missile defence plans on hold, American MIM-104 Patriot missile launchers have been deployed in rotation at two Polish military bases since last May.

Hopes are high in Warsaw that Obama’s trip could bring the much-awaited announcement of a further deepening of military ties. In March, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Washington could deploy an F-16 fighter unit to Poland.

But the proposal was condemned by Moscow. In spite of recent attempts by both countries to break the frosty impasse, Poland’s relations with Russia, its Soviet-era master, have remained decidedly cool over the years. The latter’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 angered decision-makers in Warsaw and numerous Polish politicians say boosting defence cooperation with the US is the best guarantee of their country’s borders.

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