Portuguese authorities have initiated contacts with US President-elect Donald Trump to be inaugurated Friday, January 20, 2017. The contacts are aimed at gaining access and establishing future productive bilateral relations.
Last week, the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, called US president-elect to bring up the importance of the US Lajes Field on Terceira island, in the Azores, as a strategic military outpost in Atlantic.
During the 12-minute call, President Rebelo de Sousa stressed the importance of strengthening the relations between the two countries, reminding the US president-elect that “Portugal was the first country to recognize the independence of the United States of America.”
Portugal was pleased to acknowledge the appointment, by the US president-elect, of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) as a member of the executive committee of the Trump’s Presidential Transition Team.
Rep. Nunes, who is of Azorean-Portuguese descent, is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade of the House Ways and Means Committee and the chairman of the House Select Intelligence Committee. He has been actively involved in a long term solution for the state of affairs regarding the Lajes Field in the Azores.
Rep. Nunes’ actions followed the 2015 Pentagon’s decision to downsize the US presence on Terceira island. The decision would save the Pentagon an estimated $35 million annually. Downsizing the Lajes Field, the island’s second largest employer, would significantly impact the local economy.
At the time, the President of the Government of Azores, Vasco Cordeiro, accused the United States of being in “gross violation” of the spirit of bilateral relations.
A bipartisan group of US lawmakers, led by Rep. Devin Nunes, expressed concern regarding the Defense Department plan, after Rep. Devin Nunes introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to keep the Lajes Field operational.
President-elect Donald Trump measures UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Earlier this month, President elect Donald Trump and former Portuguese prime minister António Guterres, the newly appointed United Nations Secretary-General, introduced each other over a phone conversation. The two had “a very positive discussion on US/UN relations,” said a UN spokesperson.
“This was an introductory phone call during which they had a very positive discussion on US/UN relations. The secretary-general said that he looked forward to engaging with the president after his inauguration,” Reuters reported.
Secretary-General Guterres, known for his charismatic, eloquent personality, has a long, solid experience running the UN High Commission for Refugees (2005 to 2015). President-elect Donald Trump has indicated that his administration will be hostile to the UN. Recently he tweeted, “The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!”
The United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations, paying 22 percent of the $5.4 billion core U.N. budget and 28 percent of the $7.9 billion UN peacekeeping budget.