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Cablegate: Us-Portugal Bilateral Commission Highlights

VZCZCXRO0473
RR RUEHAST
DE RUEHLI #2266/01 2851421
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 121421Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5248
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHPD/AMCONSUL PONTA DELGADA 0268
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUVACEA/65 CES LAJES FIELD PO
RHFQAAA/USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS LISBON 002266

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR ETRD PO
SUBJECT: US-PORTUGAL BILATERAL COMMISSION HIGHLIGHTS

1. (U) Summary: Portugal hosted the semi-annual meeting of
the U.S.-Portugal Bilateral Commission on October 3 to
discuss ongoing bilateral cooperation items as well as
coordination on international military engagements. The U.S.
delegation noted Portugal's military contributions worldwide,
including to UNIFIL, Afghanistan, the Balkans, East Timor,
and Iraq; welcomed Portugal's upcoming EU Presidency in 2007;
reported on the status of joint projects in the Azores and
military training programs; and detailed our robust
scientific exchange cooperation. Portugal's delegation
thanked us for securing additional pilot training slots;
reported on the status of updating bilateral MOUs; and
focused on the disputed 2006 wage increase at Lajes Air Base.
Both delegations agreed to seek a long-term solution to the
wage increase impasse. On the margins, EUR PDAS Kurt Volker
and representatives from AF, ISN, and WHA had productive
discussions with their counterparts on policy issues of
mutual interest (septels). End summary.

2. (U) Participating Delegation Members:

United States
-------------
Ambassador Alfred Hoffman Jr.
EUR Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Kurt Volker
Deputy Under Secretary for Defense Patricia Bradshaw
DCM Adrienne O'Neal
Lajes Air Base Col. Robert Winston
Office of Defense Cooperation Cdr. Ted Bradfield
Consul to Ponta Delgada Jean Manes
Embassy Science and Technology Officer Inga Heemink

Portugal
--------
DG for Political Affairs Amb. Manuel Tomas Fernandes Pereira
Portuguese Embassy Political Counselor Jose Costa Pereira
Azores Regional Government Representative Andre Bradford
Lajes Commander General Pereira da Cruz
Ministry of Higher Education Jose Garcia

MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
------------------

3. (U) POLITICAL AND POLITICAL-MILITARY ISSUES: Both
delegations stressed our close cooperation on promoting
democracy, combating terrorism, and in supporting nation
building efforts. They further noted the importance of the
consultations on Africa, non-proliferation, and Latin America
held on the margins of the Commission meeting.

- Ambassador Hoffman reported that, in FY 2007, the U.S.
International Military Education and Training (IMET) budget
for Portugal would be increased by 16 percent, Portugal would
train 22 new pilots through the Specialized Undergraduate
Pilot Training (SUPT), and nine senior officials from the
Portuguese government had attended courses or seminars at the
George C. Marshall Center. PDAS Volker recognized Portugal's
military deployments to global trouble spots, including
Afghanistan, Iraq, East Timor, and Lebanon. He also noted
our support for Portugal's EU Presidency and its active
involvement in NATO.

- Ambassador Fernandes Pereira highlighted Portugal's
willingness to participate in international engagements
"without strings attached," referring to caveats that several
nations impose on their armed forces. He praised the
U.S.-Portuguese-Angolan cooperation on establishing a
computer system for Angola's legal system. He inquired about
the status of the U.S. embargo towards Libya because the
Portuguese aeronautics company OGMA seeks to repair Libyan
C-130 aircraft as soon as U.S. policy allows.

4. (U) DIPLOMATIC EXCHANGE: Both delegations announced plans
to have diplomats work in exchanges at State or in Portugal's
MFA in November. The Portuguese also announced plans to send
an additional diplomat to State in January 2007 for
approximately one month. Embassy Lisbon is awaiting
confirmation that our exchange will be with Portugal's EU
coordination office.

5. (U) MILITARY COOPERATION: DUSD Bradshaw offered more
detailed information on International Military Education and
Training (IMET) and pilot training funding, and recognized
Portugal's plans to decline the U.S. offer of two Oliver
Hazard Perry class frigates. She raised the issue of two
Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), one on scientific exchange,
the other on procurement policy, slated to be amended or
renegotiated shortly. She said military representatives on
both sides were working to expedite the changes. Bradshaw
recognized Portugal's formal request to establish drug
intercept training programs with the U.S. Coast Guard and
promised a response soon. Col. Winston at Lajes Air Base
praised our close mil-to-mil relationship on the base and
cited examples of successful training programs, space shuttle
launch support, and refueling missions. Winston also
acknowledged that the U.S. 2005 manpower survey results for
Lajes had not been finalized and offered to share them once
they become available.

- MOD's Bernando Calheiros underscored Portugal's
appreciation for the pilot training slots and noted that
Portugal will probably request 12-16 slots a year until FY10
to make up for their current shortfall. He requested four
operational course slots to train F-16 pilots and reported
that Portugal would like to participate in operational
training exercises, particularly in pre-deployment training
in Germany. Commander Mario Marques from MOD Naval Armaments
Directorate announced that the new Portuguese military
procurement law came into effect on August 29 and provided
the U.S. delegation with an overview of the legislation.

6. (U) SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COOPERATION: DCM Adrienne
O'Neal mentioned the strong science and technology component
of Ambassador Hoffman's recent delegation trip to Florida and
offered to distribute follow-up information and notes to
encourage an ongoing dialogue. Science and Technology
Officer Inga Heemink introduced the Embassy Science fellow
and listed three other scientists slated to work in Portugal
over the next six months. She also reported on the USDA
Forest Service's cooperation with Portuguese officials to
fight forest fires, on bilateral cooperation for alternative
energy technology, and on the ongoing Department of Homeland
Security review of proposed language to update our 1994
bilateral customs agreement.

- Jose Garcia of the Ministry for Higher Education stated
that Portugal had signed protocols with Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT), Carnegie Mellon, and the
University of Texas - Austin for scientific exchange and
cooperation. Prime Minister Socrates will attend the MIT
project's launch on October 11. He then asked the U.S. to
reconsider its decision regarding meteorological confirmation
through radio signals. Luso-American Foundation Director Rui
Vallera mentioned the joint projects with U.S. universities
to do research on cancer and biotechnology. He also noted an
interest in beginning a grant program with Combined Language
Centers and Rhode Island College to offer Portuguese language
classes.

7. (U) AZORES COOPERATION: DUSD Bradshaw reviewed our key
endeavors with the Azores including sustainable fishing,
English language training, emergency response training, dairy
production improvement, and blueberry production.
Newly-arrived Consul Jean Manes, offered remarks on her
consultations with the Regional Autonomous Government of the
Azores, and with Azorean-American Congressmen in the United
States. Col. Winston highlighted the economy-boosting
housing renovation underway at Lajes, a boom reel to prevent
or contain an oil spill into the bay on Terceira, and the
U.S. efforts to use local labor and contractors when
possible.

- Andre Bradford praised the successful fire fighting
cooperation, the transfer of the Pico-Nare station over to
Portuguese control, and the Azores' developing tourism and
investment plan made in consultation with U.S. experts.

8. (U) LABOR AND TECHNICAL COMMITTEE MEETINGS: During a recap
of the labor and technical committee meetings, both
delegations explained their distinct positions regarding the
wage increase for local workers at Lajes. The United States
did a wage survey and found that the employees should receive
a 2.7 percent pay increase as of July 1 but U.S. law
prohibits an increase beyond the U.S. national standard --
currently at 2.1 percent. Portugal argued that the employees
deserved the full 2.7 percent increase, even if it meant
getting an exception to the standard cap. Portugal agreed to
approve the 2.1 percent raise with reservations and both
sides agreed to discuss a long-term solution to the impasse.

- Cdr. Ted Bradfield then recapped the technical committee's
work which included two construction projects, an amendment
to one approved project, and a land transfer discussion.
9. (U) In addition to the Commission meeting, PDAS Volker had
several meetings with Portuguese interlocutors in the Prime
Minister's office, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs (septel). AF/RSA Director Jerry Lanier,
ISN/RA Director Robert Witajewski, and WHA Special
Coordinator for Venezuela Deborah McCarthy also had
substantive meetings with interlocutors on the margins
(septels). The next Bilateral Commission meeting will be
held in Washington DC sometime in March 2007.
Hoffman

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