740.0011 E. W. 1939/17668

The Under Secretary of State (Welles) to the President

My Dear Mr. President: In connection with our conversation on the telephone of the day before yesterday, I am bringing immediately to your attention a copy of a telegram from our Legation in Lisbon1 [Page 39] sent in reply to the urgent inquiry I addressed to the Minister after speaking to you.

I fully discussed the whole situation with the British Ambassador last night. Lord Halifax felt—and I agree with him, as does Secretary Hull—that a further personal message from you to Dr. Salazar should be held in abeyance as a last resort. We all feel that because of the great value of such a message, it should not be sent by you unless we believe that a German occupation of Spain and a consequent possible entrance by the Germans into Portugal is actually imminent.

Lord Halifax further told me that just prior to the occupation of Timor, the British Government had satisfied themselves once again of the determination of the Portuguese Government to remain faithful to the Anglo-Portuguese alliance. As a result of these conversations a plan has been drawn up for joint action from the moment the Portuguese Government decides to abandon their neutrality.

The information I have just mentioned is contained in a telegram sent to Lord Halifax under date of December 16 by the British Foreign Office and I am transmitting the entire text of this telegram2 since I believe you will wish to read it as soon as possible.

Believe me

Faithfully yours,

Sumner Welles
  1. Supra.
  2. Not printed.