Memorandum by the Acting
Secretary of State
Memorandum of Conversation
Subject: Expulsion of Japanese from Portuguese Timor
|Participants:||Portuguese Ambassador, Dr. João Antonio de Bianchi;|
|Acting Secretary, Mr. Grew|
The Portuguese Ambassador called on me this afternoon and left with me the appended note with regard to the desire of the Portuguese Government to send an expeditionary force to expel the Japanese from Portuguese Timor following the tripartite agreement of November 28, 1944. The Ambassador talked at length regarding the importance of this step to the Portuguese Government, which found it very difficult to explain to the Portuguese people why their soldiers continued to be held at Lourenço Marques when no progress whatever appears to have been made in arranging for the expedition and why the repeated inquiries from the Portuguese Government had resulted in no constructive replies. The Ambassador added that the soldiers themselves were becoming decidedly restive. He said that the war with Japan might come to an end in the not distant future and Portugal would still find itself on the sidelines so far as the reoccupation of this Portuguese colony is concerned.
I said to the Ambassador that I was fully familiar with this problem and he need not for a moment think that it had been pigeonholed in the Department of State. On the contrary, we had the matter steadily before us and we had recently received from our Embassy at Lisbon a report of the conversation which Mr. Salazar had had with the retiring Military Attaché, Colonel Solborg, on this subject.1 I said that as the Ambassador knew, the problem had been given full consideration by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Combined Chiefs of Staff and that the whole question is one of timing and logistics. Our armed forces are now concentrating all their efforts on bringing the war with Japan to a victorious close at the earliest moment, and it is very difficult to persuade our military and naval authorities to deflect in any degree their efforts and the needed shipping from this essential purpose. I said, however, that in the light of Mr. Salazar’s talk with Colonel Solborg and the Ambassador’s talk today with me, I should be glad to make further efforts to follow the matter up and see what could be done in giving effect to the [Page 1358] desires of the Portuguese Government. I suggested that it would be unwise to approach the matter at this moment until the return of the American group from the meeting at Potsdam and while the President, the Secretary of State and our highest military and naval officers are absent from the country.
The Ambassador once again urged that steps be taken and he furthermore said that he had long ago urged his Government to send two Portuguese warships to an Australian port so that the Japanese might know that the Portuguese flag was flying in those areas. He hoped that arrangements could be made with Australia to bring this about.