U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Poland on the third leg of his 11-day tour of the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.
Kerry was expected to discuss with the Polish leadership ways of increasing economic cooperation and plans to build a missile-defense shield in Europe.
The NATO missile-defense plan, which has infuriated Russia, envisages employing dozens of interceptors in Romania and Poland between now and 2018.
Upon arrival in Warsaw on November 4, Kerry headed straight to a cemetery on the outskirts of the Polish capital. He laid a wreath in memory of Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Poland’s first noncommunist prime minister, who died last week.
On November 5, Kerry is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. He will later meet with American and Polish businesspeople before heading to a Polish air base to meet U.S. and Polish pilots who have been conducting joint training.
During the visit, Kerry is expected to address European concerns over the extent of a U.S. spying program. Reports that the German chancellor and French president were among leaders who reportedly had their phones tapped by the National Security Agency (NSA) have triggered a rift in trans-Atlantic ties.
Ahead of the visit, U.S. officials highlighted that Washington has major economic and defense ties with Poland -- the largest commercial partner of the United States in Central Europe. Warsaw has contributed to NATO's ISAF mission in Afghanistan with more than 1,000 troops.
In Riyadh on November 4, Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal played down recent tensions between the two states.
Faisal stressed that Saudi Arabia and the United States might disagree on tactics, but are united in the goals they are pursuing.
U.S. ties with its long-standing ally have been frayed by Washington's lack of action in Syria, its tentative warming toward Iran, and its stance on Egypt's political turmoil.
Kerry earlier traveled to Egypt. His trip is scheduled to also include visits to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, and Morocco.
Based on reporting by AP and AFP