Remarks With Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado
Secretary of State
FOREIGN MINISTER AMADO: (Via interpreter.) Members of the press, good morning. This is (inaudible) members of the press. Good morning. Just a few words (inaudible) is taking her delegation and her visit with (inaudible). (Inaudible) the U.S. have – the Portugal and the U.S. have very deep bilateral relations. The United States is a strategic partner of Portugal. There are a number of Portuguese citizens who live and work in the United States and that is for many years now. There is, in Portugal, a great liking of the United States. There is admiration for this great nation that is the United States. And that’s why, for us, it’s always a great pleasure to greet a representative of the country like Secretary Clinton.
That’s why I’m pleased to announce here on a joint declaration that the Secretary and myself have just signed. This will improve even more relations between our two countries within the context of the agreement on cooperation in defense plus the bilateral joint commission works. This will give a new momentum to our bilateral relations, and more things can be accomplished thanks to the work of the joint commission. Today and tomorrow we’ll have a chance to work together jointly and closely.
There’s an international – there are several international events with orderly impact today happening in Lisbon such as the NATO Summit meeting with the forces who are working together in Afghanistan. There are meetings with Russia. There is the U.S.-European Union Summit. So therefore, these are all events that make Lisbon today the political capital of – the capital of political life at an international level. We will have an opportunity to continue our conversations today and tomorrow and to deepen and increase our cooperation together.
In conclusion, I would like to say to Secretary Clinton that the Portuguese Government is willing and available to work even closely with the U.S. Government, among other things, issues pertaining to the Security Council, for instance, because Portugal for the next two years, 2011-2012, will be a nonpermanent member of the Security Council. Therefore, it’s important that we be able to coordinate with our allies about all these international questions that will be raised and discussed by the Council. Our dialogue and our political cooperation, political dialogue, must be a constant between the two countries, and that’s why I would like to thank Secretary Clinton once more and her delegation for coming to this meeting.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister. And as always, it’s a pleasure to see you and to work with you here in the political capital of the world. As you rightly said, we have counted up that there will be five major summits in the space of two days here in Lisbon.
I am particularly pleased that Portugal and the United States have such a long and productive relationship. We cooperate in many areas. The United States is grateful for the 65th Air Force Wing, which has had a presence in the Azores for 60 years. And we are committed to deepening and broadening our partnership through the bilateral commission, which the minister and I have agreed will be reinvigorated, as well as on a range of issues that concern us both.
But we also cooperate with Portugal in multilateral venues as well – certainly in NATO, in ISAF, in the EU-U.S. partnership which will be exemplified by the summit here tomorrow – on a range of regional and global issues that affect us both. And I’m particularly looking forward to Portugal joining once again the United Nations Security Council starting next year, where the agenda is intense and wide-ranging, from Sudan to Iran and so many more critical matters that affect the people of both of our countries.
I am also very pleased to have this chance to express our gratitude for the service and sacrifice of the Portuguese serving in Afghanistan. That is an extraordinary commitment and we are grateful to the people and Government of Portugal.
We are committed to ongoing consultation and cooperation, and we appreciate greatly Portugal hosting the very important meetings. President Obama is looking forward to joining us in just a few hours and to the meetings we will be having with the president and prime minister.
So again, let me express my appreciation and my commitment to continuing to work with you on all of the important matters that we have already been engaged in and that we discussed today.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me express again the appreciation for the Portuguese commitment to Afghanistan. It is vital, and the work of training the Afghan national security forces that you have been doing, along with other logistical and operational support, is deeply appreciated.
At the same time, the United States is well aware of the economic challenges facing Portugal. And we are certainly sensitive to the difficult choices that the government and people of Portugal are making.
We believe as NATO allies the mission in Afghanistan is in the vital security interest of both of our people. The challenge posed by radical extremists who utilize terror to promote their agenda is one that threatens the people of Portugal, the people of Europe, the people of the United States, and, indeed, nations around the world.
So although we are very supportive of the difficult decisions that will have to be made concerning the economy (inaudible) back home President Obama is making difficult decisions concerning our own economy. We believe that the mission we are pursuing in Afghanistan must continue.
QUESTION: Hello. Good morning. I’m with the (inaudible). My name is (inaudible). I was wondering if you could give us an idea of what you want to say to President Karzai this weekend, sort of the points you’ll be looking to drive home.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I will be meeting with President Karzai in a few hours. I stay in regular communication with him, and he will be addressing not only the NATO ISAF member nations that are assembling here in Lisbon tomorrow, but through that address the entire the world. President Obama will be seeing him as well tomorrow.
Our message remains very consistent, that we recognize and respect the sovereignty of the Afghan people and government, and we are working closely together, both on the military and civilian aspects of the NATO ISAF mission in Afghanistan. We believe that it’s important for us to listen closely to the government and people of Afghanistan about their concerns and to try to address them.
And we also believe that our mission in Afghanistan is making progress, which President Karzai has publicly acknowledged, and that we will agree tomorrow on the beginning of a transition to Afghan security starting next year, with the intention and goal of turning over Afghan security to the government and people of Afghanistan in 2014.
At the same time, there will be a continuing commitment of civilian support, of training and other ancillary activities that will enable the security situation in Afghanistan to be sustainable. So I think that our message has been and will remain consistent, and I look forward to seeing him.