Tusk urges Polish president for help on government

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WARSAW, Oct 23 (Reuters) Poland's probable next prime minister urged President Lech Kaczynski today to help form a new government quickly and said one of his first tasks would be to improve frosty relations with Russia.

Civic Platform leader Donald Tusk is set to be chosen by his party as a formal candidate for prime minister later today.

The Platform defeated the ruling Law and Justice party of the president and his twin brother, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, in a parliamentary election on Sunday in the European Union's biggest former communist country.

''I want to urge President Lech Kaczynski to normalise public life as quickly as possible in the way dictated by the constitution,'' Tusk told reporters, referring to the president's duty to nominate a prime minister.

Under the constitution, the president has two weeks to nominate a prime minister after the new parliament meets for the first time on November. The candidate usually comes from the biggest party.

Kaczynski's spokesman said the president would not interfere in the forming of the future government, as some commentators had suggested he might, but would retain an active role in shaping foreign relations and defence matters.

''The president respects every democratically chosen government,'' Michal Kaminski told a news conference.

Tusk said the president had no right to impose his suggestions on the next cabinet and pledged to move Poland away from the confrontational foreign policy under the Kaczynskis.

He said he would seek to repair strained relations with Russia as well as making Poland a key player in the European Union again and strengthening ties with Washington, the Kaczynskis' main foreign ally.

Poland's relations with Russia worsened under the Kaczynskis because of squabbles over US plans to put ''missile shield'' installations in Poland, energy issues and a Russian ban on Polish meat imports.

Asked where he would make his first official trips abroad if he became prime minister, Tusk said: ''Brussels, Washington and Moscow.'' REUTERS SZ KP1727

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