North African crises boosts importance of Oeiras NATO base

in Regional · 09-04-2011 00:00:00 · 0 Comments

The Pentagon agrees with Lisbon’s view that the NATO command in Portugal has gained strategic importance in light of the uprisings in Arab Mediterranean nations, according to Defence Minister Augusto Santos Silva.

“I was supported on this point”, Santos Silva told Lusa News Agency after talks in Washington with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.
“What is happening today in North Africa and in the Arab world strengthens, from my point of view, the importance that NATO should give to geostrategic and political issues in deciding on geographical locations” for alliance command facilities, he added.
NATO is expected to announce a major pruning and restructuring of its commands by June, and Lisbon is lobbying allies to keep the Joint Command Lisbon headquartered in Oeiras, outside the capital.
“I leave (the Pentagon) as, or more confident than when I entered”, Santos Silva said of his talks with Gates.
The Joint Command Lisbon is one of the three main subdivisions of NATO’s Allied Command Operations.
Washington, Santos Silva added, had shown “appreciation” of Portugal’s contribution to NATO’s efforts in training Afghan security forces and “understanding” of Lisbon’s readiness to provide humanitarian aid, rather than military assets, in Libya.
Santos Silva said the United States pays “much attention to the role” Portugal plays in relations with Africa. TPN/Lusa


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