Portugal consults with U.S. authorities

Portugal is consulting with U.S. authorities after media reports claimed airplanes allegedly belonging to companies used by the CIA to transport terrorism suspects landed at Portuguese airports, Foreign Minister Diogo do Amaral said Friday. "We're in touch with the United States" about the alleged flights, Freitas do Amaral said. He said Portugal was also involved in inquiries about the flights through other channels, including the European Union and the Council of Europe.

"At this point, we're working on a bilateral level and at an EU level" to clarify the nature of the flights, Freitas do Amaral told reporters.

He declined to provide further details, saying he would furnish information in his possession to a parliamentary committee in coming weeks.

The Foreign Ministry has previously said it had no evidence CIA planes were authorized to land or had landed since the current government came to power last March. Officials have declined to comment on what had happened under previous governments, though they said the Defense Ministry was checking flight records.

Daily paper Diario de Noticias reported in Friday's edition that 34 planes that landed in Portugal over the past three years were suspected of involvement in secret CIA operations.

One of the aircraft landed in Portugal's mid-Atlantic Azores Islands in November 2003 and then flew to the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo, Cuba, where the United States has a prison for Islamic terror suspects, the paper claimed. It did not provide its source for the information.

Other newspapers have published photographs of planes allegedly used by the CIA at Portuguese airports. The photos were taken by plane spotters, reports the AP. I.L.

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