Statements to the Press by President Obama and Prime Minister Socrates of Portugal After Meeting
3:07 P.M. WET
PRIME MINISTER SOCRATES: Mr. President, it’s an honor to welcome you to Portugal on your first visit to my country. And I think this is the right moment to reaffirm in front of you the transatlantic relationship as one of the most important pillars of Portugal’s foreign policy.
Portugal and the United States of America share the same values and same vision of the future. This I think can explain the excellent bilateral relation between our two countries.
We are very good friends, and we are very good allies. But, please, Mr. President, allow me to continue in Portuguese because I would like to address myself to the Portuguese public opinion.
(In English.) Once again, Mr. President Obama, welcome to Portugal, and I give you the floor.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. I want to begin by expressing my gratitude to you and to the people of Portugal for hosting me here today and for hosting the NATO Summit. And I have to say that your English is much better than my Portuguese.
These are obviously difficult times -- difficult economic times for the world and for Portugal. But Mr. Prime Minister, your determination to strengthen the Portuguese economy and to host these summits speaks to your leadership and to Portugal’s leadership, not only in Europe but around the world. So I thank you very much for that.
Portugal and the United States have been partners for more than 200 years, and allies for more than 60 years. Immigrants from Portugal, the Azores and Madeira, formed strong Portuguese American communities across our country, including, by the way, in my home state of Hawaii.
And I understand that there’s been a fair amount of interest here about how my family has been enriched by Portugal as well, specifically Bo, our dog. (Laughter.) He is the most popular member of the White House. (Laughter.)
As the Prime Minister said, we had some excellent discussions, first over lunch and just now in our meeting. I told the Prime Minister how grateful we are for the service of Portuguese soldiers in our efforts in Afghanistan, where next year we will begin the transition to Afghan responsibility for security.
We discussed NATO’s new Strategic Concept, which will ensure that the alliance can meet the new challenges of the 21st century. And as Portugal prepares to take its seat on the U.N. Security Council, we discussed how we can work together around the world, including our shared goal of promoting development in Africa, where Portugal has historic ties.
But the focus of our meeting was on the highest priority for both our countries, and that is creating jobs and prosperity for our people. And one of the ways to do that is to increase trade and investment between the United States and Portugal -- trade which supports both jobs and innovation in both our countries.
So we discussed how we can work to expand trade and investment and forge new collaborations in science and technology, including through our U.S.-Portugal bilateral commission. We agreed that a major opportunity for closer economic cooperation is clean and renewable energy, an area where I want to congratulate the Prime Minister and the Portuguese people for the extraordinary leadership that you’ve shown in clean energy.
New partnerships between Portuguese and American companies are leading the way in wind power. The Prime Minister’s leadership on electric cars will create new opportunities for American companies here in Portugal, as I believe we’ll see tomorrow, and this is an example of what Portugal and America can achieve together.
And obviously Portugal is working through challenges created by some of the financial markets, and I think that it’s important to note that the Prime Minister has committed himself to a very vigorous package of economic steps, and we are going to be working with all of Europe, as well as Portugal, in support of these efforts, and we want to say how much we appreciate some of the work that you are doing.
So, again, I want to thank not only the Prime Minister, the President who previously hosted me, but most of all the Portuguese people, for your friendship, your commitment to a strong alliance between our two countries, and I am very much looking forward to spending the next few days in this beautiful city so that we can continue to strengthen a relationship that I think is not only important to both our countries but important to Europe and the world as well.
END 3:16 P.M. WET