US Military Airplanes Arrive in Azores Base in Portugal

Some 30 military transport and tanker aircraft arrived recently at the US military base in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores, local media reported Saturday.

A spokesman of the Lajes base did not name the place from which the planes departed, but local media reported that they came from the United States and Britain, saying the aircraft were bound for the Gulf for a possible war on Iraq.

The Lajes base, located in Terceira, one of the nine Azores islands, has some 1,500 American personnel including 900 soldiers and is routinely used by the US Air Force for reconnaissance and refueling missions.

Last Tuesday, 20 air tankers, a dozen KC-135 tanker jets and some C-130 Hercules transport planes reportedly arrived at the base.

The United States sent 600 extra beds to Lajes last week for technicians and military operations coordinators.

Portugal, which supports Washington's tough line on Baghdad, granted the United States in January the right to use the Lajes base.

Chief UN weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei presented to the Security Council on Friday the latest report on weapons inspection in Iraq.

Anxious to obtain the council's approval of military action against Iraq, Britain circulated a revised draft resolution and set a March 17 deadline for Iraq to comply with its obligations todisarm.

France and Russia, two veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, reaffirmed that they would not allow another resolution on Iraq to be adopted.



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