A Roman Catholic priest who saw Lech Walesa today said the union leader believes he will be freed in time for the baptism of his newborn daughter, set for March 7.
The priest, Henryk Jankowski, is close to Walesa and was allowed to visit him to arrange details for the christening of Walesa's seventh child, born Jan. 27 and named Maria Victoria. He described the interned unionist as rested and in good health.
Walesa has been confined in the Warsaw area since the imposition of martial law Dec. 13 when he was flown here from his home in Gdansk.
Government officials are reported to have visited him intermittently during the past two months to discuss the future of the trade union movement in Poland. But Walesa is said to have insisted that any formal negotiations with the authorities on the union question can only take place when Solidarity's full 17-member Executive Council is present. Most of the council members are in detention centers.
With the government planning to release a draft of new trade union principles this month, Jankowski said it was his understanding that talks between Solidarity and the authorities could get under way within the next few weeks.
"From what Mr. Lech told me, by setting a date for the baptizing, I think that he'll return very quickly because he wants to be present," Jankowski said to reporters afterward. "I think that the case as such will be completed by then . I have drawn such a conclusion."
The priest told Associated Press after the meeting, "Given that date for the christening, he believes he will be free soon and for good . . . . If he is not, the christening will take place without him."
Jankowski said Walesa gave him a brief written statement denying any leaflets that may have been issued over his alleged signature in recent weeks.
"In connection with emerging calls and leaflets with my signature," the statement said, "I state that from Dec. 13 I have not issued any leaflets. All such surfacing with my signature are being provocatively fabricated. My concept of struggle is different and I will explain it after coming out."
In several such leaflets circulated last month, Walesa was said to urge workers to resist martial-law peacefully and to try and disseminate information clandestinely.
Pressed for details about how the 38-year-old union leader is coping, Jankowski said Walesa is smoking a great deal. He has access to books, radio and television and is informed about the general situation in Poland.
Jankowski said Walesa had grown a beard but intended to shave it upon his release. He described Walesa as "dreaming and thinking first of all of peace, of restoring peace to our country."
Walesa's mental health was termed "perfect" and Jankowski said the union leader is "full of enthusiasm, of eagerness as he always was, as we have seen him at the gates of the Gdansk shipyard."
Asked whether Walesa would accept possible attempts by the authorities to impose a "Leninist concept of unions" on Solidarity, Jankowski said: "I think Walesa will be faithful to the one union to which he swore and which he wanted to lead. It is a self-managed, independent union and, first of all, has the beautiful name Solidarity which unites our entire society."
In other developments, a statement by Wroclaw's regional Solidarity leader Wladyslaw Frasyniuk, who is among the most senior union activists still at large, reached Warsaw today calling on Western governments to continue to apply pressure on Warsaw's military authorities.
The statement said that resistance to Poland's martial law was continuing in Lower Silesia and taking the form of underground newsletters, occasional work stoppages and work slowdowns.
A Solidarity bulletin, dated Feb. 12 and published clandestinely, spoke of other resistance activities in 16 of 49 districts throughout the country.