Poland regrets Biden not meeting east European leaders during trip


FILE PHOTO: Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau (R) talks to the European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, during a NATO foreign ministers' meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2021. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau has criticised U.S. President Joe Biden's decision not to meet eastern European leaders on his first trip abroad.

In an interview published by Rzeczpospolita newspaper on Friday, Rau also regretted Washington had waived sanctions on the company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that is being built to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany.

Biden's eight-day trip to Europe includes a summit of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies in England, talks in Brussels with leaders of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation military alliance, and a summit in Geneva with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Unfortunately, the American delegation coming to Europe, headed by President Joe Biden, is so busy with his meeting with President Putin that it has not found time to organise meetings with allies on the eastern flank," Rau said.

Criticising Washington for waiving sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG and its chief executive, he said: "The American allies did not find time for consulting with the region of the world that is most affected by the impact of this decision."

The pipeline is being constructed despite concerns that Russia could use it as leverage to weaken EU member states by increasing their dependency on Moscow for gas.

"Who will then pay the bill for German and American mistakes? No crisis will be solved by not answering the phone," Rau said.

Poland's nationalist government set great store by its relationship with former U.S. President Donald Trump, securing a pledge of a permanent U.S. military deployment in Poland at a time when its handling of democratic values has tested the tolerance of Warsaw's EU allies.

During his campaign for last year's U.S. presidential election, Biden accused Trump of backing authoritarian leaders around the world including in Poland.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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