Saturday, November 20, 2010

Key Lisbon summit on debt and defence

It was domestic matters first when President Barack Obama flew into Lisbon for what is proving to be one of the most crucial NATO summits in the alliance's entire 61-year history.

Obama's first private meeting yesterday was with Portugal's president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, who told a press conference afterwards that the level of US investment in this country was "far from what you would expect." Obama was standing right next to Cavaco Silva at the time, but he didn't flinch at the apparent dig.

“We've come to Lisbon again to revitalize the NATO alliance for the 21st century and to strengthen the partnership between the United States and the European Union," was the main thrust of Obama's reply.

His next private meeting was with Prime Minister José Sócrates. Again the focused was on finance. The US president said America would work with Portugal and Europe to address the current crisis.

"Portugal is working through challenges created by some of the financial markets and I think that it's important to note that the prime minister has committed himself to a very, very vigorous package of economic steps," Obama told reporters.

He said Portugal and the United States had common economic problems. Jobs and economic benefits were the "highest priority for both our countries.”

During the main business of the day, the 28 NATO leaders approved a new alliance strategy for the next 10 years. Hopefully that has sorted out such matters as the prospect of ballistic missile attacks from rogue states and the onset of all-out cyber warfare.

And so to dinner consisting of Spinach Crepes, Medallions of Veal with Serra Cheese, and Priscos Abbot Pudding, helped along with Burmester red and white, and perhaps even a little vintage Port or two.

That just leaves discussion today with a keynote address by Afghan President Hamid Karzai on ending NATO's involvement in the war in Afghanistan by the an end of 2014.

Hopefully, clinking glasses of Portugese bubbly all-round at dinner tonight.

Strike expected to disrupt flights

The general strike called for next Wednesday to protest against austerity measures is expected to seriously disrupt many services, including activities at Faro and the other international airports in Portugal. Ryanair says the strike will cause flight delays and some cancellations for flights operating to and from Portuguese airports, as well as those that overfly Portugal. The national airline TAP has strongly recommended that passengers who were planning to fly next Wednesday rebook alternative dates.

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