Polish leader ‘pleasantly surprised’ by U.S. visit
WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Polish leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski returned Sunday from his first visit to the United States and said he was surprised by the level of ″interest or even of sympathy″ about Poland in America.
″I want to be absolutely objective and say that I was pleasantly surprised by the attitude of the American society,″ he said. ″All our activities were very well-organized. The American side fulfilled the host’s duties and I want to emphasize it with respect.
″I think that this relation of ordinary people is a good guarantee for the future, for the improvement of relations in general.″ He spoke with reporters at Warsaw’s Okecie Airport.
Jaruzelski was in New York for five days to attend the 40th session of the U.N. General Assembly and addressed the world body Thursday.
He also held talks with American business leaders, including banker David Rockefeller, and met with the Council for Foreign Relations. The U.S. State Department said before Jaruzelski’s trip that U.S. officials would not meet with him.
The Rockefeller Foundation has held talks with Polish officials on establishing a fund to invest millions of dollars in Polish agriculture to boost the nation’s food exports.
Jaruzelski’s remarks about the United States were the most positive since he becamse the Communist Party chief and prime minister in 1981.
Relations between Poland and the United States have been strained since Jaruzelski declared martial law in December 1981 to suppress, and subsequently outlaw, the independent Solidarity labor federation. The Reagan administration responded with economic sanctions against Poland, and some remain in effect.
In interviews published in U.S. newspapers Sunday, Jaruzelski said Washington’s conditions for lifting the sanctions were an infringement on Polish sovereignty.
He said the sanctions had caused $15 billion in losses to the economy and were affecting Poland’s ability to repay its $29 billion foreign debt.
Jaruzelski also said a high voter turnout in next month’s parliamentary elections could result in another amnesty for political prisoners.
That was the first time he had indicated publicly that his government was contemplating an amnesty.
Solidarity activists have called for a boycott of the Oct. 13 elections to protest political repression and declining living standards.
The government has said it is holding about 250 political prisoners, including such senior Solidarity figures as Adam Michnik, Wladyslaw Frasyniuk, Bogdan Lis, Jozef Pinior and Tadeusz Jedynak.
Poland freed about 630 political prisoners under an amnesty in July 1984. About 25 remained in jail and the number has increased this year in the continued crackdown on Solidarity activists.
Jaruzelski’s arrival at Okecie was broadcast live on national television.
The normally taciturn general, wearing an overcoat and business suit insteady of an army uniform, exchanged greetings with the crowd gathered to welcome him.
″I think I was successful in making another step on the road of strengthening Poland’s position, of increasing the understanding of our policy,″ he said.