On Behalf Of White House Press Office
Saturday, April 17
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced at 2:52 p.m. that the President’s trip to Poland has been cancelled due to the conditions caused by volcanic ash in Iceland.
He said President Obama called Acting President Komorowski to express his continued condolences and inform him of the announcement.
The president’s statement:
“I spoke with acting President Komorowski and told him that I regret that I will not be able to make it to Poland due to the volcanic ash that is disrupting air travel over Europe. Michelle and I continue to have the Polish people in our thoughts and prayers, and will support them in any way I can as they recover from this terrible tragedy.
President Kaczynski was a patriot and close friend and ally of the United States, as were those who died alongside him, and the American people will never forget the lives they led.”
The United States will be represented instead by our Ambassador to Poland.
The decision means that Obama will join the hundreds of thousands of travelers around the world stranded by the volcanic eruption in Iceland.
The president has been scheduled to leave Saturday night for Krakow for the state funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and First Lady
Maria Kaczynska, who were killed along with dozens of other Polish leaders April 10 when their plane crashed in a dense fog on a trip to Russia to acknowledge the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, when the Soviets executed about 22,000 Poles.
The White House decision came amid a global bottleneck in international air travel. Reports on Saturday indicated that nations around Europe were forced to shut down airports.
Minneapolis Star Tribune