The thickening cloud of volcanic ash over Europe has led U.S. President Barack Obama to cancel his trip to Poland where he was to attend funeral of its President Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash with his wife and dozens of other Polish leaders on April 10.
“I spoke with (Polish) 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,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.
Obama was scheduled to leave Washington last night to attend Sunday’s funeral.
“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,” he said.
“President Kaczynski was a patriot and a close friend and ally of the U.S., as were those who died alongside him, and the American people will never forget the lives they led,” Mr. Obama said.
Earlier this week, leaders gathered at the Nuclear Security Summit here began their meeting with a moment of silence in honour of the Polish leader.
“I begin, I want to take this moment once again to acknowledge the terrible tragedy that struck the Polish people this weekend,” Obama had said in his opening remarks as leaders of 47 countries sat down at the Washington Convention Centre here for the Summit.
Poland was represented by its Ambassador to the U.S. Robert Kupiecki.
“Mr Ambassador, all of us were shocked and deeply saddened by the devastating loss of President Kaczynski, the first lady and so many distinguished civilian and military leaders from your country,” Mr. Obama said.