The Ambassador in Portugal (Baruch) to the Secretary of State
Lisbon, February 25, 1946—1 p.m.
[Received 3:32 p.m.]
[Received 3:32 p.m.]
202. Recent acceptance by Portuguese Government of 3 months extension from March 2 of Santa Maria Agreement stimulates our thinking along following lines:
- Under terms of agreement, we must relinquish use and control of field to Portuguese on June 2, which is date of last possible extension and (see article III) all military and civilian personnel must leave the field within the extension period.
- As Dept is aware (Embtel 2252, November 14, 1945, last paragraph4) the Portuguese Government has informally stated that upon our relinquishment of field, it would be then made available for commercial use.
- In assumption that U.S. will wish to safeguard its important interest in Santa Maria Field, not only for financial but also strategic reasons, we should anticipate prior to June 2, 1946, certain steps to be taken by way of preparing ground for possible negotiations for future use and control under certain conditions. In our view, it is essential that we fullfill promptly and correctly all our obligations under Santa Maria Agreement as a precedent to initiating any new negotiations. The sensibilities of the Portuguese on matters involving their sovereignty are too well known for discussion and need not be re-emphasized.
- We believe that British intend to relinquish use and control of Lagens Field prior to June 2. This would presumably mean that Lagens would be thrown open to commercial use before Santa Maria and traffic would tend to be channelled through Terceira to our possible disadvantage from point of view of increasing importance of Santa Maria.
- We believe that Dr. Salazar5 might be disposed to entertain a [Page 964]proposal from US that (a) we relinquish use and control of Santa Maria formally and in writing on a date prior to June 2, in which case he will probably be prepared to make field available for commercial use; (b) we be invited to maintain under Portuguese control an adequate technical force on field for indefinite period or definite period to be determined by agreement. This force could be composed largely, if not entirely, of present military personnel, but not men in uniform and Portuguese control need only be sufficient to satisfy requirements of Portuguese sovereignty.
- The advantages of an agreement based on foregoing are patent and would provide an admirable interim arrangement for continued maintenance and operation of field under conditions favorable to any negotiations which we might wish to initiate.
- Embassy believes early action along lines of paragraph 5 above desirable lest we arrive at June 2 with question of future use of Santa Maria unresolved.