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Cablegate: Ambassador Meets Defense Minister Klich

VZCZCXRO0226
PP RUEHSL
DE RUEHWR #0110/01 0531612
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221612Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY WARSAW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9437
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 WARSAW 000110

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/CE (GLANTZ, KARAGIANNIS)
OSD FOR MITCHELL, AMBASSADOR VERSHBOW, ADMIRAL MULLEN
EUCOM FOR ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS
USAREUR FOR GENERAL HAM

EO 12958 DECL: 02/22/2020
TAGS PREL, MARR, MOPS, PGOV, PL

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS DEFENSE MINISTER KLICH

Classified By: Classified BY Political Counselor Dan Sainz, reason 1.4 (b, d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: Defense Minister Bogdan Klich told the Ambassador on February 18 that Poland is eager to see the fruits of bilateral defense cooperation, which he described as based on a solid political foundation. He emphasized the importance to Poland of an April arrival of the first Patriot battery rotation. Klich did not repeat recent Polish government points about the configuration of future rotations of the Patriot battery. End Summary.

2. (C) During a February 18 meeting with the Ambassador, Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich said there is a good political framework for continued U.S.-Polish defense cooperation, and noted Under Secretary Tauscher’s February 8 visit had been a very successful one. Klich said he does not expect anything will happen to undermine that solid foundation. He added that the bilateral supplemental SoFA, signed December 11, provides a strong legal framework for defense ties. The SoFA ratification vote in the Sejm (the lower house of Parliament) was overwhelmingly in favor, and Senate approval would also come quickly. (Note: The Senate voted 88-1 in favor of SOFA ratification later on February 18.) Klich said President Kaczynski would sign the SoFA ratification bill quickly.

HOPING FOR PATRIOTS IN APRIL
----------------------------

3. (C) Klich said Poland has a strong desire to see the fruits of bilateral defense cooperation, and he highlighted the political importance of an early first rotation in Poland of the U.S. Patriot battery. He said Poland hopes the first rotation will occur in April. The Ambassador said the United States wants the rotation to be viewed as a bilateral success. In answer to Klich’s questions about timing, the Ambassader said the United States has said the first rotation would take place within 90 days of SOFA ratification. He said a more precise time frame will be determined at the last bilateral planning meeting for the Patriot rotation, which will take place in the first week in March.

MILITARY FACILITIES FOR ALTERNATIVE U.S. PRESENCES
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4. (C) Klich called for talks on other forms of an enhanced U.S. security presence in Poland. He said he had authorized Deputy Defense Minister Stanislaw Komorowski and ChoD Franciszek Gagor to take part in such talks. Klich highlighted Polish interest in all of the options presented by DOD A/S Vershbow at the October High Level Defense Group discussions: F-16s, C-130’s, as well as “stable, not temporary” special operations forces. When asked, Klich confirmed that the GoP is particularly interested in U.S. F-16 rotations. Speaking personally, he said he also had a strong interest in a special operations force presence, since he had signed a bilateral special operations cooperation agreement with Secretary Gates a year ago. ChoD Gagor added that the biggest multilateral exercise Poland is hosting this year, “Jackal Stone 10,” will feature special operations forces. Klich added that as part of the first in-depth infrastructure review in postwar Poland, the Defense Ministry had decided to close 20% of defense facilities, but would be &saving8 three complexes for U.S. forces.

GETTING THE WORD OUT ON DEFENSE COOPERATION
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5. (C) The Ambassador noted that the bilateral agenda for defense cooperation is a full one, and both governments should work together to inform public opinion about the many useful exchanges under way. Klich strongly agreed that Defense Ministry and Embassy staff should follow up in this area. Deputy Defense Minister Komorowski added that if A/S Vershbow visits Warsaw in the coming months, it might be a good occasion to do some joint public diplomacy work about planning for other forms of an enhanced U.S. security presence in Poland. (Note: Amb. Vershbow’s planned mid-March trip has been postponed.)

6. (C) COMMENT: Klich’s emphasis on a hoped-for April arrival
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of the first Patriot battery is consistent with other government statements and press leaks that signal a decision to focus on the timing of the first deployment, as opposed to other aspects of it. In that regard, Klich did not repeat government appeals that Patriot rotations be integrated into the Polish air defense system and include “live” missiles, as he did in a meeting the previous week with Under Secretary Tauscher. The emphasis on the timing of the first deployment corresponds with developments in the presidential race, and Foreign Minister Sikorsky,s active candidacy for the Civic Platform nomination. FEINSTEIN

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