Kirk, Quigley talk visa waiver program in Poland

Kirk, Quigley talk visa waiver program in Poland

Posted by Kerry Lester on Wed, 01/18/2012 - 11:31

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk and 5th District Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley - who we've watched increasingly taking part in joint ventures in recent months - have returned from a four-day trip to Poland.

The two met with President Bronisław Komorowski and other state officials to discuss Poland’s aspirations for inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program, as well as defense and national security issues, and took part in a laundry list of other briefings and tours.

The program allows travelers from dozens of countries that have good relations with the U.S. to temporarily visit without a visa for up to 90 days. Right now, Poland is not on that list - something both Kirk and Quigley say they'd like to see changed. The Chicago area is estimated to have nearly 1 million residents of Polish heritage, the most Poles outside of Warsaw.

Kirk and Quigley met with President Komorowski and U.S. Ambassador Lee Feinstein to discuss expansion and reform of the waiver program, a top priority for Quigley since his arrival to Congress in 2009. Later that day, the delegation was briefed by United States European Command officials on missile defense programming.

The following day they met with former President Lech Wałęsa and Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski to continue VWP discussions. They also visited both the Polish Senate and Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, and met with Sejm Foreign Affairs Chair Gregorz Schetyna and Senate Foreign Affairs Chair Włodzmierz Cimoszewicz. Quigley concluded the day with a meeting that included Presidential National Security Advisor Stanisław Koziej.

On the third day of the trip, Kirk and Quigley respects at the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

Kirk points to an expanded waistline as evidence of a great trip. He gained five pounds, he says.

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