17 July 2002
President Bush welcomes Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski to the White House Wednesday for an official state visit. They are expected to discuss the war on terrorism and NATO expansion.
President Bush says Poland has been a great friend and supporter in the international coalition against terrorism, including sharing intelligence on terrorist threats.
Speaking to Polish reporters ahead of the state visit, Mr. Bush said he and President Kwasniewski both want to see a continuing expansion of the NATO alliance, which Poland joined in 1999. Poland is now backing the candidacy of the Baltic states Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
President Bush says he has urged applicant countries to "take nothing for granted and work hard up until the last minute" to show NATO leaders that "they'll be willing and active and capable partners" in the alliance.
President Bush referred to a speech he gave in Warsaw during his first European trip last June in which he said the United States wants to see a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.
He told Polish reporters Monday that when it comes to NATO expansion, he is interested in "more rather than less" as long as applicants meet membership requirements concerning the quality of military training and hardware.
In addition to the full ceremony of a state visit, a joint press conference in the White House East Room, and a formal dinner Wednesday evening, the men will fly to the Midwest state of Michigan Thursday to meet with members of the Polish-American community.
President Bush says there is more to a good American experience than just a formal dinner. Admitting that he tries to wear a tuxedo as little as possible, Mr. Bush promised a "big, enthusiastic" crowd for President Kwasniewski in Michigan where the leaders are expected to discuss declining U.S. investment in Poland.
The United States was the largest investor in the country for much of the last decade. Polish government figures now show that France has taken the lead with more than $10 billion in investments, compared with less than $8 billion from the United States by the end of last year.
This will be the second official state visit of the Bush Presidency after last year's visit by Mexican President Vicente Fox.