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Polish leader: plane's downing highlights need to beef up NATO defenses on eastern flank

  • Poland Presidents Summit-1.jpg

    Presidents, left to right, Milosz Zeman of the Czech Republic, Rosen Plevneliev of Bulgaria, Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania, Traian Basescu of Romania, Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland, Toomas Hendrik of Estonia, Andris Berzins of Latvia, Janos Ader of Hungary and Andrej Kiska of Slovakia pose for the family photo during their meeting in in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Presidents of the Baltic States, the Visegrad Group, Romania and Bulgaria attend the regional summit to discuss the September NATO Summit in Newport. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski) (The Associated Press)

  • Poland Presidents Summit-2.jpg

    Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski, right, welcomes Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, left, during a welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Presidents of the Baltic States, the Visegrad Group, Romania and Bulgaria attend the regional summit to discuss the September NATO Summit in Newport. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski) (The Associated Press)

  • Poland Presidents Summit-3.jpg

    Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski, right, welcomes Hungary President Janos Ader, left, during a welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Presidents of the Baltic States, the Visegrad Group, Romania and Bulgaria attend the regional summit to discuss the September NATO Summit in Newport. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski) (The Associated Press)

  • Poland Presidents Summit-4.jpg

    Polands President Bronislaw Komorowski, right, welcomes Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, left, during a welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Presidents of the Baltic States, the Visegrad Group, Romania and Bulgaria attend the regional summit to discuss the September NATO Summit in Newport. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski) (The Associated Press)

  • Poland Presidents Summit-5.jpg

    Polands President Bronislaw Komorowski, right, welcomes Slovak President Andrej Kiska, left, during a welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Presidents of the Baltic States, the Visegrad Group, Romania and Bulgaria attend the regional summit to discuss the September NATO Summit in Newport. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski) (The Associated Press)

Poland's president says the downing of a passenger plane in rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine reinforces the need for NATO to strengthen its defenses on its eastern flank.

Bronislaw Komorowski described the shooting down of the plane as a terrorist act and said it should mobilize central and eastern European countries to find ways to enhance their defenses. He encouraged the region's leaders to increase their defense budgets.

Komorowski spoke to reporters Tuesday on the sideline of a meeting with the presidents of eight other countries in central and eastern Europe, all ex-communist countries now in NATO and the European Union. The leaders met ahead of a NATO summit in September.

The region has been divided over how to respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO.