U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel welcomed yesterday Portuguese Minister of Defense Jose Pedro Aguiar-Branco to the Pentagon, and expressed to the minister his appreciation for Portugal’s many contributions to international security, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a Defense Department news release.
The secretary specifically thanked Portugal for supporting NATO’s Baltic Air Policing rotation later this year, and Portugal’s support in combating piracy and maritime crime in the Gulf of Aden and off Somalia, Kirby said in the release.
Kirby said Hagel also thanked Aguiar-Branco for Portugal’s hospitality towards U.S. airmen at Lajes Field.
The two leaders “discussed the situation in Ukraine and reaffirmed both nations’ steadfast commitment to our collective defense obligations,” Kirby said.
Both men, he said, agreed on the need for Russia to begin discussions with the Ukrainian government, as diplomacy remains the only acceptable means of resolving this crisis.
“Secretary Hagel looks forward to seeing Minister Aguiar-Branco at the NATO Summit in Wales, this September,” Kirby said in the release.
Press Release, April 1, 2014, Image: US DoD