811.2353/14: Telegram

The Minister in Portugal (Fish) to the Secretary of State

935. Both American and British Military Attachés have approached the Ministry of War with proposals similar given in Department’s 734, April 26. Portuguese have refused to consider such proposals stating that any release of interned planes whether by exchange or sale would involve a violation of neutrality. American Military Attaché was subsequently authorized by War Department to offer the 16 P–39’s and the P–38 at $20,000 each but with understanding that the U.S. could not supply spare parts equipment or munitions. He was authorized to offer gratis the four damaged planes as a reservoir of spare parts. Military Attaché conveyed this offer to Ministry of War April 26 and a favorable reply is expected shortly.

The British Military Attaché has cabled London requesting that he be authorized to make a similar offer re British interned planes.

This appears to be most satisfactory solution practicable inasmuch as Portuguese obviously will not consider any action in re these planes which might be possibly interpreted as a violation of neutrality. Moreover it is anticipated that sale of these planes will greatly facilitate early release of the 18 American pilots now interned in Portugal.