811.20 Defense (M) Portugal/1418: Telegram

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

227. For the Secretary and Matthews.48 In elaboration of that portion of my 210 January 2249 which dealt with British Ambassador’s conversation with Salazar on subject of wolfram I may say that Campbell opened this aspect of the discussion by a statement of the general situation with respect to the supply to enemy offer of alloys following outline furnished by Riefler50 at time of his recent visit here. He then made clear emphasizing the humanitarian approach, the point of view that the war would be shortened and many lives saved if specifically Portuguese wolfram were denied the enemy. He stated that of course the only solution which would be satisfactory to us in the circumstances was a complete cessation of exports of this commodity to enemy destination. He said that he was not putting forward this idea in the form of a demand but in order that Salazar should reconsider the position in light of the growing importance attached to wolfram by both British and American Governments.

Salazar expressed skepticism as to the importance of wolfram in connection with prosecution of the war and the bringing of it to an earlier conclusion. He reemphasized the danger of his own position should he take any drastic steps such as that suggested. Even if the risk of invasion had diminished the Germans [apparent omission] of making trouble for him. Twice during the interview Salazar asked Campbell if he wished an immediate answer on the spot as regards wolfram and Campbell fearing a flat refusal and also desiring to give me an opportunity of taking the matter up myself said that he did not, simply urging that Salazar think it over and give his reply subsequently. This Salazar agreed to do.

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Campbell feels that the tone of interview was in general more friendly than has previously been the case when wolfram has been discussed. The method of approach was, however, deliberately such as to preclude Salazar’s becoming angry and it would be unwise to draw any positive conclusion therefrom.

Salazar is out of town today and tomorrow I have been informed. As I have reported I have asked for an appointment with him which I assume I shall obtain before end of week. It is not improbable that at that time he will give me an indication of his further thinking with respect to wolfram following up the conversation with my British colleague.

Norweb
  1. H. Freeman Matthews, Director, Office of European Affairs.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Winfield W. Riefler, Head of Economic Warfare Division, American Embassy in the United Kingdom.