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Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky visits Poland to seek more aid

epa10559530 Polish President Andrzej Duda (L) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) review an honour guard during the welcoming ceremony in the courtyard of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, 05 April 2023. Bilateral relations and cooperations will top the agenda during the presidents' meeting. EPA-EFE/Marcin Obara POLAND OUT
epa10559530 Polish President Andrzej Duda (L) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) review an honour guard during the welcoming ceremony in the courtyard of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, 05 April 2023. Bilateral relations and cooperations will top the agenda during the presidents' meeting. EPA-EFE/Marcin Obara POLAND OUT

April 5 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Poland on Wednesday to meet with President Andrzej Duda to ease emerging tensions over Ukrainian food imports and seek more military aid from his key ally in the fight against Russia.

During a one-day visit, the leaders were also expected to discuss Ukraine's post-war reconstruction and lay the groundwork for Ukraine to legitimize its alliance with the European Union in the years ahead before signing a bilateral agreement.

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Zelensky crossed Ukraine's western border with Poland early Wednesday and was at the Presidential Palace by 5 a.m. EDT. Zelensky also planned to sit down with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

Later in the evening, Zelensky and Duda are scheduled to give a joint address before a crowd at the Royal Castle in the capital of Warsaw.

Polish presidential foreign policy adviser Marcin Przydacz said the meeting would seek to establish even closer relations between the border nations, saying the talks "should be taken as a sign of trust and of thanking Poland and Poles" for their support of Ukraine.

"We want to conduct these talks in the spirit of thinking about the future," Przydacz said, adding that Zelensky's trip "shows what role we play in international politics today."

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An emerging political crisis loomed over the meeting as protests have erupted in recent weeks on Poland's countryside, where angry farmers accuse the government of failing to limit the war's impact on the nation's food supply.

With massive levels of Ukrainian products flooding freely into the Polish market, the issue is likely to create a heated parliamentary election this fall.

The tense subject was likely to come up in Zelensky's meeting with Morawiecki, who last week called on European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to cut agricultural imports from Ukraine to the EU.

"Let's support Ukraine, but let's do so wisely and, above all, let's put the interest of the country and Polish farmers first," Morawiecki tweeted at the time.

Zelensky and Duda have been in close contact throughout the war, with Duda making four trips to Ukraine since Russia invaded more than a year ago.

This week, Poland also delivered on its previous pledge to send four MiG-29 fighter jets to help Kyiv continue to hold ground in the war.

Zelensky and Duda also met in February after the Ukrainian president visited other allies on a world tour, including a critical sit-down with U.S. President Joe Biden in December that resulted in more funding and military aid.

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The meeting comes as Finland officially became a member of NATO on Tuesday, expanding the international military alliance to 31 countries and delivering a stinging blow to Russia's wider global ambitions.

On Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he invited Zelensky to attend the next NATO summit in Lithuania this summer.

"A strong independent Ukraine is vital for the stability of the Euro-Atlantic area, and we look forward to meeting President Zelensky at our Vilnius summit in July," Stoltenberg said.

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