Remarks With Portuguese Foreign Minister Rui Machete Before Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
January 29, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. It’s my great privilege to welcome the Foreign Minister of Portugal Rui Machete. We are very old friends – that is to say, Portugal and the United States. We are --


SECRETARY KERRY: I am young. Together, we are young. But coming from Massachusetts, I have a very, very long history with the American Portuguese community. We have very, very strong ties with Portugal and a great affection for the relationship in those ties. And Portugal obviously has the longest historical links with the United States, and they have been a strong and important ally to us in many, many ways. Most recently, we have been joined by our friends from Portugal in the efforts in Afghanistan, and we’re very grateful to them for their commitment and for their willingness to really take risks and to be part of this significant effort.

In addition, Portugal has been working very, very hard to address significant economic challenges, and we applaud the work that they have done, the reforms and efforts they have put in place. We’re very hopeful that the TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Partnership Investment Act[1], will have an opportunity to be able to really make a difference. And we’re trying to close the gap on those negotiations and hope that they will be completed in the near term.

So, my pleasure to welcome you. We have a number of things to discuss. But I think the foreign minister knows I am married to a woman of Portuguese descent, and I hear Portuguese in my house every single day, so Muito Obrigado, thank you for coming, and happy to have you with us.

FOREIGN MINISTER MACHETE: You can speak Portuguese. (Laughter.)

I am particularly pleased and honored to have this opportunity in my – when I pay my first visit, official visit, to the United States to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry. We have some links. One of them is the fact that you are married with a magnificent woman and beautiful woman of Portuguese descent. And as the Secretary of State has said, we are allies many – along many, many years. We have been founders of NATO, and since then, we have cooperated in matters of defense. We have more than half a million Portuguese or people of Portuguese descent working in the United States. This is another link, a very important link that can contribute to this reinforcement of our friendship.

We have, too, strong bilateral relations that now are growing and that have surpassed the five billion euros, which is a bit more in dollars. And we have in common the certain preoccupations about the defense of the values of the West and about the defense (inaudible) of the West. And we hope that we can review the major issues that you have now to face in order to exchange views and to reinforce our cooperation, which is something that we consider very much and is very, very important in our relationship with the United States.

And I think that the United States can continue to count with Portugal as a reliable, reliant friend, along this world – that it is not flat, but it is (inaudible). Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Minister. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Thank you, sir. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what did you think of the State of the Union last night?

SECRETARY KERRY: Beg your pardon?

QUESTION: What did you think of the State of the Union?

SECRETARY KERRY: I thought it was excellent. The President did a great job. Thank you.


[1]Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership