Implementation of cuts at Lajes will test U.S.-Portugal relations, says Vasco Cordeiro

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Portuguese Defense Minister Jose Pedro Aguiar-Branco (at left) and the president of the Regional Government of Azores, Vasco Cordeiro, at a press conference, after their meeting in Ponta Delgada on Wednesday, Jan. 9.

PONTA DELGADA — The way the United States will implement the decision to reduce its military presence at the Lajes Bases on Terceira island will be a test for U.S.-Portugal relations, said the president of the Regional Government of Azores on Wednesday.

“The decision itself does not affect this relationship, but the way it will be implemented and the care it will be given by the United States government to help us deal with the economic and social impact of this decision, these are the true tests of this relationship, not under the strict scope of defense, but the diplomatic relationship between the two countries,” said Vasco Cordeiro, after a meeting with the Portuguese Defense Minister Jose Pedro Aguiar-Branco.

The Lajes situation was one of the main issues under consideration at the hearing. The minister is expected to meet with the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, next week in Lisbon.

The United States announced last year that they will drastically reduce its military presence at Lajes to contain defense costs. The decision was met with much consternation in the Azorean archipelago, since the base stimulates the local economy and generates hundreds of jobs.

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