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Poland helps to rebuild Iraq


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Poland will take an active role in the reconstruction of Iraq, sharing its "experience and knowledge" in building economic and political institutions, Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said Tuesday.

"In the last several years, with our economic and political transformation, we've got that kind of experience," Cimoszewicz said. "We are ready to take part in stabilization activities. Poland is going to be consistently active in the reconstruction of Iraq."

Cimoszewicz's remarks came during a short news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell after the two met Tuesday morning.

Powell thanked the Polish foreign minister for Poland's participation in the war and for "once again stepping up to its responsibility, particularly in activities of reconstruction. ... The Polish people have been good friend to the United States and, more importantly, good friends to the people of Iraq."

A senior administration official told CNN arrangements are being made for the U.S. to help Poland pay for its stabilization force.

"The U.S. knows that Poland doesn't have a lot of money so we are going to work it out. We don't want the Polish deployment not to happen because of the financial issue," the official said.

A Polish official told CNN that Poland is interested in having as many European Union countries in the stabilization force as possible, and has been pushing specifically for German involvement.

Poland has been trying to serve as a bridge between the United States and Germany, whose relations have been strained over German opposition to the war in Iraq.

The senior administration official said this effort by Poland is helpful, and that a NATO role in the reconstruction of Iraq would be helpful in moving the U.S.-German relationship forward. There have been informal discussions on NATO's role in Iraq, but nothing has been set.

Last month, Poland signed an agreement to purchase 48 F-16 fighter jets in an "offset program," in which the United States would invest the amount of money Poland spent on the F-16s -- or more -- in Polish companies. The deal is worth at least $7.7 billion.

After World War II, Poland was a satellite of the former Soviet Union. Labor turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent labor union Solidarity, which by 1989 was a political party that swept parliamentary elections and the presidency -- ousting the communist leaders -- and helped implement a "shock therapy" program in the 1990s that transformed Poland's economy into one of the most robust in central Europe, according to the CIA Fact Book.

-- CNN State Department Producer Elise Labott contributed to this report


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