Edition 1513
16 February 2019
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Trans-Atlantic ties 'should be strengthened not diminished', US told

by TPN/Lusa, in News · 22-06-2018 10:30:00 · 0 Comments

Portugal's minister of foreign affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, said on Thursday that he had told his US counterpart at a meeting in Washington that the importance of trans-Atlantic ties should be strengthened “and not diminished”, despite differences in the positions of the European Union and US on some issues.

Trans-Atlantic ties 'should be strengthened not diminished', US told


Santos Silva was received by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department at 9am local time (2pm in Lisbon) in what was the first official event of a five-day visit to Washington, a week before a planned meeting at the White House between Portugal's president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and the US head of state, Donald Trump.


Relations between the European Union and the US were among the subjects discussed by Santos Silva and Pompeo on Thursday, with Portugal's minister reiterating that “independent of the differences of opinion, which are clear today, in matters as important as climate change or international trade, the alliance between the democracies of North America and Europe is absolutely vital for the international order”, Santos Silva himself told Lusa by telephone after the meeting.


“Portugal argues, as do various other European Union member states, that we should insist now on the importance of the trans-Atlantic tie and not give up on that tie or diminish its importance,” he said.


On bilateral relations, the situation has “two positive element”, according to Santos Silva.


On the one hand, the new US ambassador in Lisbon, George Glass, has helped bring “a positive change in US behaviour in the negotiations” relating to the draw-down of US forces at the base at Lajes, in the Azores, and measures to offset environmental impact of the decades-long US presence there. At this moment, Santos Silva said, “all questions relative to workers” employed locally by the US forces had been resolved, infrastructure questions are "on the way to being resolved", and “there has been progress” on the issue environmental impact.


Portugal's government has “reiterated our intention of continuing to value the Azores as an essential axis of cooperation between Portugal and the United States", including plans for new defence and science-related institutions.


Santos Silva also highlighted the growth in bilateral trade and investment. For example, he said, 30% of liquefied natural gas exported from the US to Europe is shipped via the port at Sines, south of Lisbon.


Where global affairs are concerned, Pompeo provided “very useful information” about the talks underway between the US, North Korea and China.


Santos Silva, for his part, “informed [Pompeo] about the relationship between Portugal and China that is also useful for the US to have a clear notion of what that relation is, its scope and nature."


Portugal is among the EU countries that has received most investment by Chinese companies, most of them state controlled, in recent years, relative to its population and the size of its economy.


The meeting between Santos Silva and Pompeo also served to prepare next Wednesday's planned meeting at the White House between the two countries' presidents. Their meeting represents the culmination of 'Portugal Month in the United States' that has already seen Portugal's president and prime minister take part in celebrations to mark Portugal Day, 10 June, in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which are home to large Portuguese emigrant communities.


The last meetings between presidents of the two countries took place in 2011, when Portugal's Aníbal Cavaco Silva was received at the White House by Barack Obama of the US, a year after they had met at a NATO summit in Lisbon.


Santos Silva's programme for Thursday also includes a meeting with US National Security Advisor John Bolton, which is to touch on foreign policy and security issues in general, including NATO, the “strategic position of the Azores”, and the fight against terrorism.

Santos Silva had met Pompeo and Bolton's predecessors in their posts, Rex Tillerson and General H. R. McMaster.


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Edition 1513
16 February 2019
Edition: 1513

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.



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