President Donald Trump will welcome his first foreign visitor in months next week when Poland’s leader comes to the White House for talks. Four days afterward, Andrzej Duda will face reelection in a race that has tightened considerably in the past month.
The return to hosting fellow heads-of-state for meetings comes as Trump seeks to project a return to normal after months of lockdown due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. He last held a meeting with a foreign counterpart in March when Ireland’s leader visited the White House. Days later, Trump announced restrictions on travel from the European Union, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
While Trump once hoped to welcome fellow leaders for a G7 summit in Washington at the end of June, he postponed the gathering to at least September after German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested it was too early to travel to the United States.
Instead he will host Duda, a nationalist leader for whom Trump has shown an affinity since a visit to Warsaw in 2017.
Trump has often remembered back to that trip and the large crowd that gathered in a central square to listen to him deliver a speech on US-European relations. Duda, meanwhile, has sought to curry favor with the President by seeking to name a military base in Poland Fort Trump.
His trip on Wednesday comes days ahead of a close presidential election on June 28. Duda, who has been accused of veering into autocracy, faces several challengers.
Trump has shown a willingness to lend political support to his global allies facing tough contests, including when he hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in close proximity to Israeli elections earlier this year.
The visit also comes as Trump readies a plan to cut as many as 9,500 US troops currently stationed in Germany. At the same time, Trump has announced plans to send more to Poland in a bid to counter Russian aggression. Some Polish officials have suggested Trump should move troops currently stationed in Germany to Poland.
The White House said in announcing the visit that it “comes at a critical time for both the United States and Poland, as we reopen our countries after months of battling the coronavirus pandemic.”
“As close partners and NATO allies, the United States and Poland continue to expand our cooperation across a wide range of issues,” the White House said. “President Trump and President Duda will discuss further advancing our cooperation on defense, as well as trade, energy, and telecommunications security.”