US-Poland sign special forces cooperation agreement

KRAKOW, Poland (AFP) — The United States and Poland Thursday inked a deal boosting cooperation between their special forces on the sidelines of NATO talks in Krakow, senior US and Polish officials said.

“As Poland expands its special forces, the United States will help in any way we can,” said US Defense Secretary Robert Gates after signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Polish counterpart Bogdan Klich.

Around 100 Polish special forces troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan, part of a 1,600-strong Polish contingent there.

Klich called Thursday’s bilateral deal an historic “milestone on the road to strengthening our special forces in joint operations.”

“I think we will test the value of this agreement during the operation in Afghanistan,” he said.

According to the memorandum, the US will provide assistance “in the areas of education, training, unit partnerships and officer exchanges.”

Stressing Poland was a responsible country with 1,600 Polish troops already in Afghanistan, Klich ruled out any additional Polish troop deployments in the near future.

“No, we don’t consider it right now to send more troops to Afghanistan but I hope there will be countries that will decide so,” he told reporters.

“One of the most responsible countries from this point of view are the United States of America that are sending troops right now,” he added.

Having made Afghanistan a priority, the new US administration of President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday it would send an additional 17,000 troops there by the summer.

Washington is hoping that NATO partners gathered in Krakow for the two-day informal meeting of the alliance’s defence ministers will also up their troop numbers and civilian support in the volatile nation.

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