740.0011 European War 1939/11895

The British Ambassador ( Halifax ) to the Secretary of State 10

Summary of a telegram received from the Foreign Office on May 23

It has now been possible to make soundings in Lisbon regarding the intentions of the Portuguese Government in the event of a German attack or menace of attack. Although at the outset Dr. Salazar11 was reticent, he has now sent a communication to the British Government. This communication is being urgently examined in London and it is felt that it may be possible that some arrangement may be reached regarding the Atlantic Islands. That being so, it is felt that in the meantime it might be preferable not to send any United States emissary to Lisbon. Portuguese public opinion is at the moment rather nervous regarding American and British intentions concerning the Azores or even the mainland. The arrival at this juncture of an American representative might increase these rumours and give an opportunity to the Germans for mischievous propaganda. In the circumstances, the British Government’s view, subject to what the [Page 843] United States Government may feel, is that it would be better to hold American influence in reserve for the moment.

  1. Transmitted with covering letter dated May 24, 1941.
  2. Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, President of the Council of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal.