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Reagan Lifts Curbs Placed on Poland : Political Reforms Credited in Ending Sanctions From '81

February 19, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — President Reagan, applauding recent political reforms but calling for even greater movement toward freedom for the Polish people, today lifted all remaining U.S. economic sanctions against Poland.

Responding to political reforms and appeals from Polish-Americans and the Roman Catholic Church, Reagan removed the vestiges of tough sanctions imposed against Poland just days after the imposition of martial law in December, 1981.

In a written statement, Reagan said the measures were applied to show "that America would not passively stand by while a grand experiment in freedom was brutally smashed in Poland.

Freedom's Light Shines

"Today, more than five years later," he said, "the light of freedom continues to shine in Poland. The commitment and sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of Polish men and women have kept the flame alive, even amid the gloom."

The action by Reagan, announced after a meeting with Polish-American leaders and members of Congress, restores Poland's most-favored-nation trading status and erases a ban on official U.S. credits to the Warsaw government.

The most-favored-nation status allows Polish imports into the United States on terms as good as any available to friendly countries.

Although the short-term impact is expected to be limited, Chicago Alderman Roman Pucinski, one of those invited to the White House meeting, lauded Reagan for "a very wise move--one that will help stimulate the Polish economy."

Dissidents Freed

The State Department began reviewing the sanctions after Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the Polish leader, acted in September to free all political prisoners. Dissidents now face economic penalties rather than jail.

Although martial law has been lifted, thousands of prisoners have been freed and no arrests made since amnesty was declared in September, Reagan said, "there is still far to go.

"The threat of arrest still hangs over those who seek their freedom. The right to genuinely independent trade unions is still stifled. Independent political activity continues to be repressed by various governmental measures," Reagan said. "National reconciliation remains a dream, a goal for the future, rather than a reality of today."

'We Will Be Watching'

Portraying his action as an incentive for additional progress, Reagan said, "We will be watching to see that further steps are taken toward national reconciliation in Poland and that the progress made is not reversed."

Removal of the sanctions was recommended by Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead upon his return from a visit to Poland last month in which he met with Jaruzelski, Cardinal Jozef Glemp and Solidarity labor movement founder Lech Walesa.

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