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Written Responses to Questions Submitted by Diario De Noticias of Portugal

April 29, 1985

U.S. Deployment of Nuclear Weapons

Q. The American press recently published a report on U.S. plans to deploy nuclear weapons in various strategic points in Europe, including the Azores, in case of an emergency. The Portuguese Government claims never to have been contacted on the subject. Does this plan exist? Has the U.S. considered such a possibility?

The President. These press reports are very misleading. Both Portugal and the United States are members of the NATO alliance, and NATO's policy with regard to nuclear weapons—a policy to which the U.S. strictly adheres—was set out by the NATO heads of government in the 1957 Paris agreement. There it was agreed that deployments of nuclear warheads and missiles would take place only by agreement of the NATO states directly involved. We stand by that agreement fully and completely.

U.S. Military Bases in Portugal

Q. Would it be correct to say in light of international political developments that the strategic importance of Lajes base in the Azores has increased in recent years?

The President. Lajes has been important to Western defense ever since World War II. At that time it played a significant role in protecting the Atlantic sealanes. Lajes continues to play that role today. The core of Atlantic security remains the defense of the territorial integrity of the NATO member states. In that respect Lajes' role as part of the air bridge between the U.S. and Europe is also an important element of collective security.

Q. Given the strategic geographical position of mainland Portugal, does the administration intend to negotiate in the near future for the installation of new military bases in Portugal?

The President. We value the close cooperation which exists between Portugal and the United States in defense matters. We are working to assist Portugal's military modernization effort so that Portugal can fulfill its desire to play a more active role in the defense of the West through NATO. While we have no new negotiations ongoing at present, our defense cooperation was recently strengthened by the agreements in December 1983 and March 1984 regarding our continued access to the Portuguese base at Lajes and the installation of a satellite tracking station in southern Portugal. There are, however, ongoing discussions implementing the agreement on the satellite tracking station.

U.S.-Portugal Relations

Q. Given the political differences between President Eanes and Prime Minister Mario Soares—a phenomenon of Portuguese internal politics generally called a "conflict between organs of sovereignty"—has this, in your view, caused difficulties in the bilateral relations between the U.S. and Portugal?

The President. The premise of your question concerns Portuguese internal politics and that is not a matter for me to discuss. The point to be remembered is that relations between the United States and Portugal are excellent. Areas of cooperation have expanded substantially over the past 10 years as our two countries have found, in a common commitment to democracy, a broader and firmer basis for our traditional friendship as peoples and allies. Defense cooperation is certainly an important and constructive part of our relationship.

But it would be a mistake to overlook the many other ways in which our two countries and peoples are linked together. There are rich human ties between Portugal and the many Americans who are Portuguese by birth or descent. The flow of our peoples back and forth across the Atlantic is growing, particularly as more and more Americans discover the beauties of your country and visit Portugal as tourists. The United States has sought to assist Portugal's development and infrastructure in a number of ways, both through technical and financial assistance and in the construction of schools, health centers, and other facilities.

Trade between our two countries is substantial and the U.S. represents a good market—which is largely untapped, but rapidly expanding—for Portuguese exports. In 1984 U.S. merchandise imports rose over 25 percent, helping Portugal's overall exports to the U.S. increase by 70 percent. United States firms are increasingly looking at investment opportunities as Portugal takes steps to improve the climate for foreign investment, particularly in the private sector. In addition, Portugal's creation of the Luso-American Foundation will provide an important new vehicle for cooperation between us in a number of economic, technical, and other areas.

International Trade

Q. The American economic miracle has had negative effects on the smaller economies, such as the Portuguese, and especially in the countries of the Third World, becoming ever more backward and impoverished. What do you judge to be the best measures that could be adopted to improve the commercial balance with Portugal, unbalanced heavily in favor of the U.S.? What do you think could be done to close the ever-growing gap between industrial countries and those still developing?

The President. The sustained recovery and growth of the U.S. economy has had beneficial effects on the international economy. About one-quarter of our economic growth has spilled over to other countries, helping to promote recovery abroad, both by our OECD trading partners, such as Portugal, and elsewhere. Furthermore, the strong U.S. dollar has given a competitive advantage to foreign producers, including those of Portugal. So, in 1984 alone, Portugal's overall exports to the U.S. increased by 70 percent.

The best thing we can do at this point is to keep our markets open to ensure that growth continues and strengthens. I am committed to doing that and to fighting protectionism. The best thing the developing countries can do for themselves, it seems to me, is to maintain market-related economic policies that will assure that they share in the benefits of worldwide economic growth. All our trading partners, both the developed and developing countries, should work together to resolve specific trade problems as they occur and to obtain agreement to the commencement of a new round of trade negotiations early next year.

U.S. Relations With Angola and Mozambique

Q. What conditions need to be met for the normalization of relations between the U.S. and the Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa, namely Angola and Mozambique? What role could Portugal play in this process?

The President. Our relations with Mozambique have developed rapidly in the recent past, and I would not characterize them as being anything other than normal today. We maintain accredited Ambassadors in each other's capitals. We and the Mozambican Government are working together to implement programs of U.S. economic development assistance. The U.S. also has made major contributions of food to relieve the serious shortages created by drought conditions in Mozambique.

We also have been in frequent direct contact with the Angolan Government in an effort to facilitate a negotiated solution to the conflict between South Africa and Angola and to secure the implementation of United Nations Resolution 435, calling for the independence of Namibia. It has been the policy of the last three administrations, however, that formal diplomatic relations with Angola could not be considered until the issue of Cuban troops there has been resolved.

With regard to Portugal's role, we value its experience and knowledge of Africa. Portugal has played a constructive role in the process leading to the recent expansion of relations between Mozambique and the West, including specifically the United States. We have and will continue to consult closely with your government as we address the issues of the region, including those involving Mozambique and Angola.

Note: The questions and answers were released by the Office of the Press Secretary on May 5.

Ronald Reagan, Written Responses to Questions Submitted by Diario De Noticias of Portugal Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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