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Breaking EU ranks, Polish leader in Beijing diplomacy push

February 4, 2022 GMT
In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and Polish President Andrzej Duda pose for a photo during their meeting in the southern Polish city of Wisla, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Poland for two days of talks with his Polish counterpart as fears run high that Russia could invade Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and Polish President Andrzej Duda pose for a photo during their meeting in the southern Polish city of Wisla, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Poland for two days of talks with his Polish counterpart as fears run high that Russia could invade Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and Polish President Andrzej Duda pose for a photo during their meeting in the southern Polish city of Wisla, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Poland for two days of talks with his Polish counterpart as fears run high that Russia could invade Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
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In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and Polish President Andrzej Duda pose for a photo during their meeting in the southern Polish city of Wisla, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Poland for two days of talks with his Polish counterpart as fears run high that Russia could invade Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
1 of 2
In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and Polish President Andrzej Duda pose for a photo during their meeting in the southern Polish city of Wisla, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Poland for two days of talks with his Polish counterpart as fears run high that Russia could invade Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Alone among his fellow European Union leaders, Poland’s president was in Beijing Friday for the Winter Olympics opening in what his office said was a bid to maintain good ties with China and lobby for an easing of Russia-Ukraine tensions.

President Andrzej Duda is scheduled to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Sunday, his office said.

Other EU leaders have followed the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada, among others, in a stated or unstated diplomatic boycott of the Games due to China’s human rights record — while allowing their athletes to compete.

Poland, which currently heads the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has good political relations and strong economic ties with China.

“Our position is that we want to have the best possible relations with China and we can see a similar interest on the Chinese side,” said Duda’s foreign policy advisor, Jakub Kumoch.

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The Polish president has a role in shaping Poland’s foreign ties but is not the chief policy-maker.

His office said that while in Beijing Duda would also meet U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. It said talks would include security and Russia-Ukraine tensions.

Kumoch, has said Duda wants to seize “certain diplomacy chances” that the gathering of many leaders in Beijing, including Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, offers. Duda is not scheduled to meet Putin.

“The goal of these talks is to encourage the interlocutors to play an active role in leading to Russia-Ukraine talks,” Duda’s press office says.

Russia has amassed some 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine, stoking fears in the West of an invasion and spurring efforts to ease the tension.