Polish leader goes to US summit, no talks planned with Obama

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s president is traveling to Washington for a security summit but has no meeting scheduled with President Barack Obama. Observers in Poland say controversial government policies may be the reason.

President Andrzej Duda’s schedule, released Tuesday, includes no meetings with Obama or any key U.S. politicians.

Observers note the trip is taking place just three months before Obama is expected in Warsaw for a NATO summit that Poland’s politicians consider key to the nation’s security. Poland is concerned over neighboring Russia’s aggressive policies toward another neighbor, Ukraine.

“The U.S. is shutting the door,” major daily, Rzeczpospolita said

“Barack Obama’s rejection of Andrzej Duda’s request for a meeting is the biggest failure of Polish diplomacy” under the new conservative ruling party that gained power in November elections, commentator Jedrzej Bielecki wrote in Rzeczpospolita.

Before he attends the Nuclear Security Summit on Thursday and Friday, Duda is to meet with U.S. media to defend Polish government policies which have sparked street protests and drawn censure from European Union leaders and institutions, as well as from some U.S. senators and media. They say that Poland’s democracy and rule of law are threatened.

Vowing “good change,” the Law and Justice party is implementing sweeping social and political changes, including wider surveillance powers for the police and new legislation that has paralyzed the country’s top court, the Constitutional Tribunal, starting a political conflict.

A staunch U.S. ally that has contributed troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, Poland is counting on Washington’s understanding, especially ahead of the NATO summit, where Poland wants to obtain greater security guarantees.