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Remarks of the President and Prime Minister Francisco Pinto Balsemao of Portugal Following Their Meetings

December 15, 1982

The President. Prime Minister Balsemao and I have first met last June at the NATO summit in Bonn. And this, however, has been our first opportunity to talk at length, and we've had a lot to discuss. Our exchange is exceptionally useful and harmonious. After these discussions it's now even more clear why our two countries have been such hard-and-fast allies for so many years.

The relationship between Portugal and the United States is one of common values, mutual respect, and broad cooperation. In our meeting and the working lunch which followed, we covered a broad range of international topics and found substantial agreement.

Among other subjects, we discussed our defense cooperation, which goes back many years. We're now in the process of negotiating a new security cooperation agreement to broaden and strengthen our collaboration on our common defense objectives.

Portugal and the United States share a common responsibility for the defense of the West. And our security relationship is important to both countries, as well as to the NATO alliance. The Prime Minister has explained to me the various military modernization needs of his country, and I have reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to help Portugal to meet these goals.

We also discussed the economic assistance which the U.S. has provided to Portugal over the years. This continuing assistance is an important expression of our desire to befriend and help the Portuguese people. We agreed that the current negotiations on the security cooperation agreement should lead to an early and mutually satisfactory conclusion.

We also discussed each country's initiatives in southern Africa and the unique perspective that Portugal brings to these issues, especially in view of its historic ties with Angola and Mozambique. The Prime Minister and his government have been most generous in sharing with us some valuable insights drawn from their extensive experience in the area. We shall continue to consult our Portuguese friends in the future.

Finally, and perhaps above all, as one democratic leader to another, I've expressed to the Prime Minister my personal admiration and that of all Americans for the continued progress of democracy in Portugal. The Portuguese experience has shown how, given a chance, people will choose freedom. That the progress worked so well in Portugal is a tribute to the Portuguese people with their love of freedom, their high ideals, and high civic and political responsibility.

We're delighted with their success, and we certainly are proud to continue calling them friends and very happy to welcome the Prime Minister here today.

The Prime Minister. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

I'm thankful to President Reagan for the invitation he addressed to me to come to Washington, providing a timely opportunity to discuss bilateral relations between Portugal and the United States and to exchange views on international items and matters of mutual interest.

The summary of our talks was brilliantly given by the President, and so this allows me to concentrate only on some of the points which were raised.

First, I would like to fully endorse the President's assessment of our relationship and of the principles on which it is based. It is not by sheer coincidence that a sound friendship between Portugal and the United States has existed for 200 years. And it is still showing a dynamic vitality, as we all know and as this visit demonstrates. We in Portugal look forward to working in close cooperation with the United States and for that effort we count very much on the strong Portuguese American community living and working here in the United States.

Our interests and concern about the evolution of the situation in southern Africa has led us to express our viewpoint that peace and stability in that area can be achieved only through balanced economic development and respect for the security of all countries concerned. I was also very interested in hearing the President's assessment of his recent trip to South America and in exchanging views on this region, which is also of particular interest for Portugal.

I had the opportunity to fully brief the President on the recent political evolution of the situation in Portugal, on our economic situation, also, and on the development of our negotiations to join the European Economic Community. In the present political stability of my country, opens new perspectives for more cooperation and more constructive cooperation with the United States and with the free world.

We also discussed in detail our security cooperation regarding which we have been engaged in extensive negotiations. These talks have now reached an important stage as we have just begun to renegotiate the Azores agreement. Portugal is a reliable partner which wants to fully assume its responsibilities in security terms, expects within this context a clear understanding from its American alliance.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:27 p.m. to reporters assembled at the South Portico of the White House.

Earlier, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office. They then attended a working luncheon in the Residence.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks of the President and Prime Minister Francisco Pinto Balsemao of Portugal Following Their Meetings Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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