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Pompeo meets Polish leaders, signs defense pact, discusses Belarus

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WARSAW (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw on Saturday where the two discussed a new defense agreement and their support for the people of Belarus.

Pompeo and Morawiecki also discussed the COVID-19 pandemic, securing 5G networks and a new bilateral agreement to cooperate in the development of Poland’s civil nuclear power program, a State Department spokeswoman said.

The defense pact, agreed last month, will see the number of U.S. troops in Poland rise to at least 5,500. It will cost Poland around 500 million zlotys ($134.79 million) more per year.

The deal also involves the development of expertise for Polish forces in the areas of reconnaissance and command, with the possibility of more U.S. forces coming to Poland in case of an increased threat.

Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak was quoted by state news agency PAP as saying the country would be able to quickly increase the number of U.S. troops to 20,000 if needed.

Pompeo’s visit to Warsaw comes after stops in the Czech Republic, Austria and Slovenia as part of a regional trip focused on cyber and energy security.

Pompeo also discussed the situation in Belarus, which faces new EU sanctions over a disputed election last Sunday.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Belarus for a sixth consecutive day on Friday demanding that Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko step down.

($1 = 3.7094 zlotys)

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Anna Koper; Editing by Christina Fincher

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