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Nazi Victim Compensation Discussed

April 30, 1999

GDANSK, Poland (AP) _ German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder assured Polish leaders Friday that he supports compensation for Nazi-era slave laborers who were forced to work for German companies during World War II.

After talks with Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, Schroeder stressed his intention that Polish citizens be equally treated in a slave labor compensation fund German industry wants to set up by September.

``We believe there should be no difference regarding the nationality in compensating the victims,″ he said.

The Polish-German summit was just the second since the fall of communism and the first on Polish soil.

Buzek received Schroeder at the city hall of the Baltic port where the Nazis began World War II 60 years ago. Before the war, Germans and Poles had lived together for centuries in Gdansk.

Newly allied in NATO, the German and Polish leaders said they agreed that the air war against Yugoslavia must continue while world powers seek a diplomatic solution. Poland joined NATO last month.

Schroeder also praised Poland’s ``ambitious goal″ of joining the European Union by 2003 and pledged his support.

Officials for the two countries signed an agreement regulating the exchange of government secrets, including military information and crime-fighting data.

Still weighing on their ties, however, are unresolved claims by some 400,000 Polish citizens forced to work for the Nazis.

Former slave laborers are planning to file lawsuits in German and U.S. courts. They are seeking to build pressure on the German government, which has agreed to oversee a compensation fund launched by 12 major German industrial firms, including Volkswagen and Siemens, that used slave labor during World War II.

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