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Remarks Following a Meeting With President Lech Kaczynski of Poland

July 16, 2007

President Bush. Mr. President, welcome to the United States. Poland and the United States have a very unique and strong relationship. And the President and I have just had a very constructive dialog. And, by the way, Mr. President, there are a lot of my fellow citizens who trace their heritage back to Poland who are delighted to welcome you to America.

And along those lines, I fully understand a lot of Polish citizens would like to travel to the United States. And so my friend the President has once again brought up to me the visa waiver issue, which I fully understand, Mr. President, and thank you for your candor. And I will continue to work with Congress to change a law that needs to be changed.

Poland is a strong ally. And Poland has taken some very difficult decisions to help a young democracy survive in the face of extremist threats. And I want to thank you, Mr. President, and the Polish people for supporting the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.

War is never popular. But having heard from the Iraqi leaders today and their expression of gratitude, not only to the Polish Government but the Polish people and the American people for supporting this democratic experiment, Mr. President, it reminds me of how important what we're doing is.

America is, of course, pleased that the Polish economy is strong. We want our friends to prosper. Of course, the President, in all modesty, reminded me that's the purview of the Prime Minister. Of course, I reminded the President he knows the Prime Minister quite well. [Laughter]

And finally, we talked about how we can enhance the mutual security issues. And there's no better symbol of our desire to work for peace and security than working on a missile defense system, a missile defense system that would provide a—security for Europe from single or dual-launch regimes that may emanate from parts of the world where leaders don't particularly care for our way of life and/or are in the process of trying to develop serious weapons of mass destruction.

And I thank you, Mr. President, for your vision and your understanding about the nature of the world in which we live. And I thank you for working on behalf of securing the security of others. And we continue to work and consult very closely with you. And so we welcome you. Thank you for coming.

President Kaczynski. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. President has already briefed you about the issues we were talking about during our meeting. And concerning visa waiver, we discussed the issue; however, it is in the hands of the Congress. We do understand that the legislative process in the U.S. is very—it is stable, and it is really hard to change that binding law, that existing law. And so we are looking forward to positive changes in this area.

Another very important issue is the issue of missile defense. And I would like to emphasize that we discussed it in terms of defensive instruments because it is aimed at defense of our democracies against the countries who might have or already do have nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. So it is really a defense instrument—missile defense instrument. And so I do hope that all this project—the whole project will be completed successfully.

And we also discussed other forums which could foster and strengthen our mutual relations and also the NATO. And this issue of strengthening our cooperation will be discussed at the level of the Secretary of Defense of the United States of America and also our Defense Minister of the Republic of Poland and on the level of experts. And our conversation, our meeting is not over yet, and there are some issues we are going to—[inaudible].

President Bush. I've got to buy him some lunch. [Laughter]

Thank you, sir. Yes. Thank you all. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:44 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski of Poland. President Kaczynski referred to Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates; and Minister of National Defense Aleksander Szczyglo of Poland. President Kaczynski spoke in Polish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

George W. Bush, Remarks Following a Meeting With President Lech Kaczynski of Poland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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