811.20 Defense (M) Portugal/1416: Telegram

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

125. I also discussed wolfram with Dr. Salazar yesterday evening. In view of the situation indicated in the Legation’s 2972, December 11,43 the British Ambassador44 and I agreed that at the same time he should represent the same considerations to the Portuguese Foreign Office as I did to the President of the Council. We both warned the Portuguese authorities of the vital interest the United States and Great Britain had at this stage of the war in denying wolfram to Germany, indicated that there were important instructions in process of being dispatched from Washington and London and requested that no commitments be undertaken with the Germans before our proposals had been given consideration.

Salazar was eloquent and not a little vehement on the subject of wolfram and in summary said:

(1) He would not undertake to refrain from entering into an agreement with the Germans before [garble and apparent omission].

(2) He had had two or three talks with the Germans about wolfram but had not yet concluded a firm commitment.

[Page 87]

(3) He called attention to the fact that the Anglo-American Wolfram Agreement expired on December 31, 1943, and that of Germany not until February 29, 1944; that he had warned Kennan45 early in December that the time had come for action. He added that if the past was any indication of the future, before London and Washington could get together and agree on a practicable set of proposals the time would have arrived when it was necessary to make a new German agreement which could be concluded with the Germans rapidly.

(4) He was quite prepared to receive the British Ambassador and me when he had obtained our Government’s proposals which he hoped would be soon and that they would contain a practicable proposition.

Salazar referred to the figures reported in my 3060, December 2246 and said that the production of wolfram in German mines was declining with some rapidity and hinted that it might be possible to discourage somewhat wolfram production. He reviewed at some length the past wolfram negotiations and emphasized forcefully the uselessness and futility of Great Britain on the one hand affirming to the Portuguese Government that it desired Portugal to preserve its neutrality and then on the other hand attempting to deny Portugal the means of maintaining that neutrality by requesting such drastic curtailment of wolfram exports to Germany as would lead to retaliation.

The above of course bears out the point that was made in the Legation’s 71, January 10, and at the same time emphasizes the need for prompt action.

Repeated to London as No. 23.

  1. See footnote 34, p. 84.
  2. Sir Ronald H. Campbell.
  3. George F. Kennan, Counselor of Legation in Portugal, designated Counselor of European Advisory Commission, London, December 1, 1943.
  4. Not printed.