The Minister in Portugal ( Norweb ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 5:43 p.m.]
835. For the Secretary and Matthews. I understand that the Portuguese Government has recently reopened the question of Portuguese participation in the liberation of Timor through its Minister in Washington. Since Dr. Salazar’s previous approaches on this subject have been directed to the British Government, this action reflects his recent realization of the controlling influence of the United States in military operations in the Pacific theater.
Since this situation is susceptible of exploitation to our advantage I venture to make a few comments for consideration in the formulation of the reply:
- Salazar’s wishes to obtain the benefits of being an ally but without incurring any risk of bringing the war to Metropolitan Portugal.
- He also wants to ensure Timor’s return to Portugal with Portugal having a hand in the restoration (a) for the usual reasons of personal and national prestige, and (b) because he realizes that when dismemberment [Page 20] of empire begins there is no knowing where it will end. Accordingly Salazar would like so to time Portugal’s belligerency as to avoid not only risk of embroilment in the European War but if possible, Jap occupation of Macao. Presumably, if Macao is occupied by the Japanese it would ultimately be liberated with the help of Chinese forces who might restore it to China and not to Portugal.
With these considerations in mind you will recall that in my last interview with Dr. Salazar (Legation’s 614, February 26, 11 p.m.) I answered his question regarding Portugal’s participation in the liberation of Timor by indicating that a reply was naturally not unconnected with action in the matter of authorizing construction of a second airfield for American use in the Azores since such a step constituted the greatest single contribution Portugal could make to the liberation of Timor in particular and the Far Eastern War in general. I feel we should continue to pursue this line of approach and not commit ourselves to assisting Portugal’s participation in the liberation of Timor until we see our way clearer to obtaining the facilities in the Azores we need. It is for this reason that I have not yet employed the information contained in the Department’s 505, February 21, 9 p.m. However a joint approach with the British in the matter of preliminary staff conversations must be envisaged and can at a certain stage be used very advantageously.
It is possible that these and related matters may be discussed by the Under Secretary during his London visit in which event it might be well for me to be there for consultation though, if wolfram is also on the agenda I recommend Butterworth54 who is likewise conversant with Azores question.
- W. Walton Butterworth, Second Secretary of Legation in Portugal.↩