740.00119 PW/9–1745: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

8075. On instruction from his Govt Portuguese Ambassador has asked Dept to support alternatives proposed by Portuguese Govt in place of Australian plan of landing Australian forces forthwith to accept Japanese surrender of Portuguese Timor.

Alternatives were said to be (1) surrender ceremony to be on an Australian cruiser in Dili Bay (2) surrender to be effected on Australian territory (3) delegation of Australian officers without any forces to join in acceptance of surrender on Timor itself.

Consideration of these alternatives is question for appropriate British Commonwealth Commander since Timor is in area of British Commonwealth responsibility for surrender and occupation arrangements, but Dept feels obliged to express its concern at proposed Australian action. Dept trusts British Government will agree with following views and will place matter before Australian Govt in such a way that latter will agree to respect spirit of commitments necessarily entered into as part of the common war effort. These call for Portuguese participation in expelling the Japs and, by inference, in surrender and occupation arrangements.

US-Brit Timor notes gave assurance of participation of Portuguese troops in any expedition to expel Japs from Portuguese Timor and Dept therefore feels that any untoward delay in arrival of Portuguese troops in Timor would be unfortunate in light of very definite language of the agreements, in exchange for which US and Brit Commonwealth obtained valuable facilities in the Azores.

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While landing of Australian forces in Portuguese Timor in number beyond that strictly necessary for formal acceptance of Japanese surrender and assurance of security would not be contrary to Santa Maria-Timor agreements of 28 Nov 1944, such action would seem to be unjustified since there is now no question of forcibly expelling the Japs. Timor notes said that purpose of operations agreed to therein was the restoration of the territory “to lull Portuguese sovereignty”, and presence of excessive number of Australian troops is incompatible with that objective. Presence of any large number of Australian troops does not in any case appear to be necessary to maintain order since Commander in Portuguese Timor has already surrendered his troops to Governor of colony and Governor has been in full control since Sept. 5, according to information given by Portuguese Government. Moreover, Portugues troops are on way to the Colony. Portuguese Govt has offered to cooperate fully in evacuation of surrendered Japs.

Incidentally, Portuguese Embassy in Washington was informed on August 27 that there was no objection by the US Govt to the reoccupation of Portuguese Timor by Portuguese troops, subsequent to the formal Japanese surrender, although it was stated then that since Timor was in an area of British Commonwealth responsibility for surrender and occupation operations, details concerning the Portuguese expedition should be arranged between the Portuguese and the British Commonwealth commander.

Communicate foregoing urgently to FonOff and say that we are instructing Embassy Lisbon (reference its tel 1924 September 12 rptd to you as 444) to inform Portuguese Govt of our position as outlined above and that we may even be obliged later to state our position publicly.

Sent London as 8075; repeated Lisbon as 1513 and Canberra as 99.