Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shake hands at the end of their presidential town hall debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, US, October 9, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Jim Young

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa has thrown his support behind US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

“I think it’s a very good opportunity to put a great woman in the limelight, who would be a force for greater opportunities in the world, for greater peace, and also a more open relationship among various countries,” he said of the extraordinary US race during an exclusive Asia Times interview in Macau.

When asked to clarify if his comments meant he was “ready for Hillary,” Costa replied, “It might seem like that, yes.”

Without naming Clinton’s Republican opponent Donald Trump, Costa rejected his protectionist and isolationist leanings.

“I don’t want to interfere in the US elections, the US people will be the ones to choose their next president, but I think that there is a clear choice. We don’t want to go back to the world of protectionism, what we do want is an open world and open minds,” he said.

It is unusual for sitting heads of state to explicitly throw their weight behind presidential candidates. Concerns that diplomatic ties would deteriorate should the endorsed candidate lose and fear of accusations of meddling in the election tend to keep foreign leaders on the sidelines when it comes to opining on the US election.

A handful of other sitting European heads of state have also endorsed Clinton, and one has endorsed Trump.

The full interview will be published on Asia Times in the coming days.

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