Poland hopes Obama visit will bring F-16 base deal
Poland is hoping that the May 27-28 visit of US President Barack Obama will pave the way for the stationing of US F-16 fighter jets on Polish soil for the first time, Poland's defence minister said Monday.
"I hope that both sides will be ready with this agreement by the time President Obama arrives," Bogdan Klich said, quoted by the Polish PAP news agency.
"I confirm that at the moment we are holding talks with the Americans on the topic of a detailed agreements that will govern on what basis the Air Detachment -- the detachment that will permanently service the F-16 and Hercules crews and land personnel periodically visiting Poland -- will be stationed on our territory," Klich said.
Last year, Klich said he hoped the F-16 rotations would begin in 2013.
The United States will announce the transfer of an F-16 base from Aviano in Italy to the Lask air field in central Poland during the Obama visit, Poland's leading Gazeta Wyborcza daily reported Monday, quoting an unnamed Polish diplomatic source.
A US official familiar with the negotiations Monday in Warsaw refused to confirm or deny the information, but indicated that an agreement announced by the Polish and US presidents in Washington in December was "on track".
A press statement issued December 8, 2010 by the White House following talks between Obama and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski announced the "establishment of a US air detachment in Poland to support periodic rotation of US military aircraft", without providing a time-frame.
In December, Poland's Soviet-era master Russia warned it against hosting US fighter jets, saying it would counter the move.
© 2011 AFP