US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he will visit Poland and three other European nations next week as Washington looks to reposition troops out of Germany.
Pompeo will also visit the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Austria on a weeklong trip starting August 11 that is expected to focus heavily on limiting Chinese influence.
“It’ll be a very important and productive trip, I expect,” Pompeo told reporters in a brief announcement.
Polish President Andrzej Duda last month won a narrow victory after a polarizing campaign in which he attacked LGBT rights and flew to Washington as President Donald Trump‘s first White House visitor under the coronavirus pandemic.
The United States has been boosting military cooperation with Poland as it pulls troops out of Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel has tense relations with Trump.
The Pentagon said last month that the United States will send home some 6,400 military personnel from Germany and move nearly 5,600 to other NATO countries including Italy and Belgium.
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak has said that the United States will deploy at least 1,000 troops to Poland, a strong supporter of the NATO alliance due to its longstanding concerns about neighboring Russia.
The trip also comes as Pompeo campaigns to reduce Chinese influence around the world and encourage allies to shun Huawei, arguing that the tech titan endangers security through its ties to Beijing.
Pompeo has pledged to put a greater focus on Central and Eastern Europe amid a resurgent Russia.
In June, the Czech Republic expelled two Russian diplomats after accusing the embassy of spreading a rumor that Russia planned to poison officials for removing the statue of a Soviet general.
Russia denied the plot and expelled two Czech diplomats in retaliation.