WARSAW, Poland (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Poland on Monday to discuss issues ranging from international security and the situation in the Middle East to economic cooperation.
This is the first visit by a high-ranking U.S. politician to Europe since the revelations that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande were among leaders who reportedly had their phones tapped by the National Security Agency, which is believed to have collected data on millions of Europe-based phone calls.
The reported spying is expected to figure in Kerry's talks Tuesday with Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak. Polish leaders have not been named among the surveillance targets, but Tusk indicated he wants to hear Washington's explanations on the matter.
The allegations of U.S. spying on its allies have led European leaders to call for a halt to such practices, while many officials are demanding a suspension of a trans-Atlantic agreement that allows U.S. companies such as Apple or Google to process commercial and personal data of clients in Europe.
In Poland, Kerry also is expected to discuss the defense ministry's plans to spend some $30 billion on upgrading equipment in the next nine years, development of a missile shield in Europe, troop pullouts from Afghanistan, where Poland's soldiers are serving, and ways of increasing bilateral economic cooperation.
Kerry is making this brief stop in Europe during his visit to the Middle East. On arrival from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Kerry is to lay a wreath at the grave of Poland's and Eastern Europe's first post-communist prime minister, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, who died last week at the age of 86 and was laid to rest on Sunday.
From Poland, Kerry goes on to Israel.