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Mitt Romney to meet Poland’s Lech Walesa

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WARSAW — US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will meet Poland’s former president and anti-communist freedom icon Lech Walesa this month, Walesa’s office said Friday.

They are due to meet July 30 in Walesa’s home, the Baltic port of Gdansk.

“Mitt Romney will visit Poland at the special invitation that president Lech Walesa sent the governor at the beginning of the month,” the Lech Walesa Institute said in a statement.

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“Poland and Poles are paying close attention to the election campaign in the United States, focused on choosing a leader for the American nation for the next four years,” Walesa wrote in the invitation dated July 4.

“Their choice will influence the fate of America and the world.”

In May 2011, the icon of Poland’s 1980s anti-communist freedom drive snubbed fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate President Barack Obama, Romney’s Democratic party rival ahead of the November poll.

“I expect this meeting would only amount to a photo opportunity,” Walesa told AFP at the time, explaining why he declined to meet Obama.

Romney, 65, is tipped to make a five-country campaign tour this summer with stops in Britain, Israel, Germany, Poland and possibly Afghanistan, the US-base publication Politico said this month.

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A New York Times/CBS News poll released Thursday marked the first time Romney scored a numerical edge over Obama, with 45 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him if the elections were held now, compared with 43 percent for Obama, The New York Times said.

Walesa, 68, made history as leader of Solidarity, the Soviet bloc’s first and only free trade union, created on the back of a wave of strikes that swept communist Poland in 1980.

After the Polish regime’s brutal December 1981 martial law crackdown on the union, it survived underground to re-emerge in 1989 under Walesa’s leadership to negotiate a bloodless end to communism in Poland.

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In 1990, Walesa became Poland’s first democratically elected president since World War II, serving one five-year term. He remains a respected democracy campaigner and is active on the global lecture circuit.


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