Continued importance of Lajes airforce base reinforced
The new US ambassador to Lisbon, Randi Charno Levine, has highlighted the “unique” and “special” role that the Azores play in the historic US relationship with Portugal.
Following perceived wobbles in the recent past over America’s continued presence at Lajes airforce base, ambassador Levine has brought the picture up-to-date, highlighting the “framework of collective defence” in the military infrastructure as part of “strong bilateral relations” which are centuries old.
Ms Levine was speaking at the Palácio de Sant’Ana, in Ponta Delgada, where she was “delivering her greetings to the head of the Azorean government, José Manuel Bolieiro”, writes Lusa.
She recalled there are more than a million emigrés of Portuguese Azorean origin living and working in the United States.
This was the first trip since the ambassador took office about a month ago, and she used it to point to the “unique and special role that the Azores play in the framework of the historical relations” between Portugal and the US – visiting Lajes Base on Terceira island that for some years now has been involved in a fight to clear contamination of the soil by heavy metals.
For reasons unexplained, the ambassador’s statement was not open to questions from journalists. It was followed by a statement from José Manuel Boleiro in which he too defended the close relationship between the Azores and the US, advocating a cultural agenda to add to bilateral relations that go back an impressive 225 years.
Randi Levine was nominated for her new role by US president Joe Biden in November 2021. The nomination was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate in March – and she took office in April.
The ambassador is considered an arts advocate, cultural diplomacy leader and philanthropist, says Lusa, and hopes to “strengthen the longstanding collaboration between Portugal and the US in the areas of diplomacy, trade, education, culture and defence“.