Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Portuguese Foreign Minister Paulo Portas at the Department of State on September 27, 2011. Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Portas discussed the strength of the U.S.-Portugal relationship, the economic challenges now facing Portugal and Europe, Portugal's contribution to NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and Portugal's diplomatic role in North Africa and the Middle East during the democratic transitions of the Arab Awakening.
Secretary Clinton said, "...I was in Lisbon last when Portugal hosted several major meetings, including the NATO Summit and the U.S.-EU Summit. It was an extremely productive visit, and I must say that our bilateral relationship is very strong. Portugal has been a friend and an ally to the United States, and we greatly appreciate all the work that we do together around the world on key issues, and today the foreign minister and I discussed a number of those.
"We discussed the economic challenges now facing Portugal and Europe. And I want to say very clearly that the Portuguese people and the Government of Portugal have demonstrated impressive resolve in putting aside political differences to implement difficult austerity measures that are helping to stabilize the Portuguese economy, but also to set it up for long-term economic success. As I expressed to the foreign minister, the United States will stand with Portugal as it continues to make economic reforms that return Portugal to a path of growth and sustainable opportunity for the Portugal -- Portuguese people.
"But even during this time of economic challenge, Portugal has continued to work with the United States and NATO ISAF to help stabilize and secure Afghanistan. Portuguese troops serve in Afghanistan, helping to train and mentor Afghan security forces, a high priority for our mutual mission there.
"Portugal has also played a key diplomatic role in North Africa and the Middle East during the democratic transitions of the Arab Awakening. As head of the UN Libya Sanctions Committee, and as a member of the UN Security Council, Portugal has overseen the release of more than $16 billion in frozen assets to help fund UN and humanitarian activity in Libya and to allow the Transitional National Council to provide basic security and public services to the Libyan people.
"And with respect to Syria, Portugal has worked diligently with its EU partners to roll out the seventh round of EU sanctions this past week. And we both hope that this strong message will compel Asad and his regime to change course and cease killing and detaining Syrians who wish to have a better life.
"On these and many other critical issues of global security, prosperity, and peace, Portugal is a leader and a valued partner. And let me express my appreciation to the foreign minister for the work that he has done personally and to the work that his government has undertaken. I met him in Istanbul about two weeks after he took office. He was thrown into the midst of everything as we were meeting with the Libya Contact Group, and we've had a number of occasions since to trade impressions and look at what we needed to be doing together."
You can read a transcript of the Secretary's remarks here.