By Julian Pecquet - 11/05/13 10:26 AM EST
Polish leaders used a visit from Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday to personally lobby for U.S. exports of natural gas.
Poland is a key U.S. ally and is already America's largest trading partner in central Europe. The country, which has long sought to diversify its energy imports to avoid an overreliance on Russian gas, is building a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in the Baltic port city of Świnoujście.
“Poland is one of the countries who think that for the sake of environment and for the sake of our economies in Europe and in Poland, we should explore and produce shale gas, and gas should flow to our [LNG] terminal also from the United States,” Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski said during a joint press conference with Kerry.
The natural gas industry and other business groups are pressing the Energy Department to approve more applications to export natural gas to nations that lack formal free trade deals with the U.S. The department has approved several in recent months, but advocates of expanded exports want the trend to continue.
Kerry did not mention natural gas in his remarks but urged quick passage of a proposed free trade deal with the European Union, of which Poland is a member.
“Europe and the United States joined together in an economic association would be one of the most powerful economic forces on the planet,” Kerry said, “and it will raise the standards by which all countries are engaging in economic activity.”
Some European lawmakers have called for a freeze on the trade talks until the Obama administration adresses their concerns about spying allegations revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Sikorski however said the European Union has no authority when it comes to allegations of U.S. spying.
“These are two separate things, two separate orders: One belongs to Europe itself, to the Community,” Sikorski said. “The second one is rather national in character; it depends on individual and states vis-a-vis the U.S.”
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