811.248/1–1945: Telegram

The Chargé in Portugal ( Dickerson ) to the Secretary of State

128. George and I called on the Secretary General of the Foreign Office3 this afternoon by appointment in order that George might present to him the desire of the American Government as set forth in Deptel 82, January 13. Prior to making this appointment, an informal approach had been made to Salazar4 through his secretary in order to ascertain the method by which he desired to have the question, of which we understood Bianchi5 had already informed him, placed before his Government and he had indicated that it should first be discussed with Sampayo.

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During the conversation with Sampayo, an appointment with Salazar was sought at which time George and Payne might present the matter to him more fully. Sampayo could, of course, give no definite time but indicated that he believed such a meeting might probably be set for next Wednesday.6 He said he would report the conversation to the Prime Minister at once but that he was quite sure it would be impossible to arrange the visit sooner.

George exposed the purpose of the proposal frankly and fully and Sampayo seemed neither surprised nor to find the proposal disagreeable. On the contrary, he seemed interested and asked a number of questions to which replies were furnished in a manner to leave him in no doubt as to the true character of our wishes. For example, he inquired as to the type of cargo these transports would carry through Portugal and specifically whether in addition to relief supplies, et cetera, it was proposed to carry military supplies. George replied in the affirmative and said that what was desired was agreement to the routing of ATC planes through Lisbon in the same unrestricted manner as on existing routes. Sampayo did not shy at this and gave the impression of being familiar at least to some extent with the character and operations of ATC. He brought up the inevitable question of neutrality and stated that the political issue would be the important one. George remarked that Portugal, of course, was officially neutral, but inquired whether it was not true that an initial departure from neutrality had been made when the Azores agreement7 was signed with the British, and whether at that time Germany might not from a juridical standpoint have taken the position that Portugal was no longer neutral. Sampayo made a gesture of acquiescence. George then observed that the operations in the Azores, both in Terceira and in Santa Maria, were distinctly of a military character and that the Azores were a part of metropolitan Portugal, politically and administratively. He said that, therefore, there was in fact no difference between conducting such operations in Portugal, in Europe, and in the Azores. The only difference was that operations here would be more visible, but both Germany and Japan knew of the operations in the Azores and had commented lately in their radio broadcasts on the more secret of the two operations, namely Santa Maria. Sampayo agreed, but added with a smile that the Prime Minister has his own way of drawing fine lines and is much more juridically-minded than he (Sampayo). George said that if Germany had not reacted either following the British–Azores agreement or the more recent establishment [Page 439] of our operations in Santa Maria,8 this evidently had not been because of any fear of being offensive, but was rather because Germany had an interest—at this point Sampayo interrupted to finish George’s sentence by saying “Yes, Germany has the interest of keeping open her window to the Atlantic.”

Sampayo said that, of course, the operation in Santa Maria was directed against Japan, and that Portugal had an interest of its own in Santa Maria from that standpoint.

George said that we might consider Lagens then, instead of Santa Maria, or that we might bear in mind that to us there was only one war and that Santa Maria was an instrument directed against Germany as well as Japan. He assented, saying, “In effect, yes”. George did not wish to leave him in any doubt concerning operations through Santa Maria and stressed the point that there were two documents, the Timor note9 and the Santa Maria agreement, and that whereas Sampayo had been thinking of the Timor note, the agreement itself spoke of unrestricted use. Sampayo agreed.

  1. Teixeira de Sampaio.
  2. Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, President of Portuguese Council of Ministers, and Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  3. João Antonio de Bianchi, Portuguese Ambassador in the United States.
  4. January 26.
  5. Agreements between the United Kingdom and Portugal concerning facilities in the Azores, signed at Lisbon, August 17, 1943, and November 28, 1944. For texts, see British Cmd. 6854: Documents Constituting Agreements Concerning Facilities in the Azores.
  6. For documentation regarding efforts of the United States to obtain certain military privileges in the Azores, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, p. 1055.; for text of agreement signed November 28, 1944, see Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 2338, or United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST), vol. 2 (pt. 2), p. 2124.
  7. See telegram 2678, October 6, 1944, 4 p.m., to Lisbon, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, p. 76.