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Poland says US ambassador’s letter won’t spoil good ties

FILE - In this Sept. 6, 2018 file photo, Georgette Mosbacher stands next to an American flag after receiving her credentials as new United States ambassador to Poland in Warsaw. Moshbacher has triggered anger on social media on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, with a letter allegedly sent to Poland's prime minister that takes his government to task over its treatment of a U.S.-owned independent television station. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The Polish government said Wednesday that a letter from the U.S. ambassador that took it to task over its treatment of a U.S.-owned television station and misspelled the prime minister’s last name won’t spoil “very good” bilateral ties.

The letter from Ambassador Georgette Mosbacher to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki circulated in Polish media Tuesday, drawing angry comments from politicians and ordinary Poles who found its tone and the mistakes disrespectful. But some praised Mosbacher for defending media freedom.

Mosbacher wrote to express “deep concern” over the right-wing government’s criticism of TVN, a Polish broadcaster owned by the U.S. company Discovery. TVN is seen in Poland as being critical of the conservative government.

Government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcinska said in a statement that Poland and the U.S. enjoy “very good relations and one incident will not change that.”

She said the government wouldn’t comment on the letter’s content or it being leaked to the media.

“In our opinion diplomacy calls for calm and prudence,” the statement said.

Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak called it a “misunderstanding” resulting from businesswoman Mosbacher’s lack of experience in diplomacy.

Poland and the U.S. have close military ties and Blaszczak said his cooperation with Mosbacher, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, was “very efficient” as Poland is lobbying to host a U.S. military base that it has promised to call “Fort Trump.”

Mosbacher tweeted Wednesday to confirm that ties are “very good” and that her priority was to strengthen bilateral “friendship.”

But she stressed that the freedom of speech, of the media and of the intellectual discourse were of very high importance to the U.S. and to her personally.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that Mosbacher is doing a “great job” of representing the U.S. in Poland and that she “represents our ideals and values.”

Support for Mosbacher came also from Poland’s democracy icon and former president, Lech Walesa, who said she was right to react to the pressure on journalists because the government’s methods are “terrible.”

“She had the right to write this letter,” Walesa told Wirtualna Polska news site.

“She should get glory, not insults for that,” he said, adding that he has met Mosbacher in person and knows her to be Poland’s friend.

Kopcinska’s statement insisted that Poland wasn’t curbing media freedom and that it also values freedom of speech. But government plans to change the media law have alarmed its critics and have recently drawn disapproving comments from Mosbacher.

Prosecutors are looking into undercover footage broadcast in January by TVN showing members of a Polish neo-Nazi group celebrating Adolf Hitler’s birthday last year. Poland bans the propagation of Nazi ideology.

In 2016, TVN was bought for $2 billion by the U.S. company Scripps Networks Interactive in the largest U.S. investment ever in Poland. Scripps has since been bought by Discovery, Inc., based in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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A previous version of this story was corrected to show that Heather Nauert is spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, not the White House.

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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