In Poland, Biden Puts Foot in Mouth Once More

Image: In Poland, Biden Puts Foot in Mouth Once More U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski arrive for a press conference after their meeting in Warsaw on March 18.

Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 06:41 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday claimed credit for ushering Poland's entry into NATO through the U.S. Senate as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. In fact, Poland joined NATO in 1999 when Republicans controlled the Senate and former Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina was the chairman, The Hill reported.

Biden's gaffe came as he arrived in Poland to discuss the situation in Ukraine with President Bronislaw Komorowski and other leaders in Warsaw.

Condemning "Russia's continuing assault on Ukraine's sovereignty," Biden said he was in Poland because it was more important than ever "that friends stand with one another."

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As a show of solidarity, the United States deployed 12 F-16 fighter jets and several hundred servicemen to Poland, Biden said.

Recalling earlier events, Biden said, "Fifteen years ago, I was honored, as the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, to lead the fight for Poland's admission into NATO."

Biden, who has a record of verbal blunders, served as chairman of the committee from 2001 to 2003. Bloomberg News first reported the gaffe.

Biden had initially been skeptical about NATO expansion, but later became co-chairman of the Senate NATO observer group and led Senate Democrats in backing Warsaw's joining the alliance.

In February 1998, he told fellow senators: "For 40 years, the United States loudly proclaimed its solidarity with the captive nations of Central and Eastern Europe who were under the heel of communist oppressors. Now that most of them have cast off their shackles, it is our responsibility … to live up to our pledges to readmit them into the West through NATO and the European Union as they qualify," according to Bloomberg.

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