811.34553B/5–546: Telegram

The Ambassador in Portugal (Baruch) to the Secretary of State

top secret
us urgent

395. For Hickerson. Salazar received Kuter and Culbertson yesterday afternoon. O’Malley was also present.

Salazar opened by reading a news flash of a story appearing in yesterday’s New York Times. He was obviously concerned over this leak. This was no doubt same story Horsey13 telephoned about. O’Malley stated AP had approached him. We stated that presence of Kuter and Culbertson in Lisbon was known and newsmen would easily put two and two together. We recalled to Salazar that Kuter had talked to Minister of War14 about likelihood of leak and need for some release in order avoid speculation by press as well as avoid Russian press distorting story. Salazar agreed all parties might say something to the effect that present discussions are for the purpose of terminating the wartime arrangement for the use of Santa Maria and arranging for transition of airfield to civilian use. Salazar was not [Page 968]willing to add any reference to use in connection with our occupation in Germany since we had not yet discussed this point. Salazar then stated he wanted to outline his understanding of our proposal and to give his comments. He read from a paper,15 a copy of which he gave us. Such side comment as he made was only by way of amplification of this paper. Complete substance in translation, follows:

Introduction

  • “1. For the further elucidation of the problems presented it appears that we must deduce from the previous explanations given by Mr. Culbertson and General Kuter that:
    A.
    The United States and British Governments propose that we should examine the possibility of the cooperation of the Portuguese Government, by means of facilities in the Azores similar to those granted during the recent conflict, in the hypothesis of a war with Russia.
    B.
    These two Governments, having in mind present necessities arising from the occupation of Germany and Japan, request the continuation of the facilities previously granted.
    C.
    For the purposes of international civil aviation and for the purposes of subparagraph A [B?] above, they propose to assist the Portuguese Government to maintain the two existing airports in a state of perfect preparation and equipment. For the better fulfillment of this objective the United States Government suggests a special arrangement relating to Santa Maria.
  • 2. It is necessary to examine the essence of these proposals in detail.

I

1.
The question of greatest political importance is the first, which should therefore be examined first.
2.
We do not reject in limine the possibility of Portuguese cooperation in the security of the Atlantic. In more than one public statement the Head of the Government has left the way open for such cooperation. Not only did he affirm on one occasion that the conflict of 1939–1945 was perhaps the last war in which Portugual might be able to remain neutral, but he also said that the shift of the world’s political center westward confronted the Atlantic countries or some of them with the necessity of coordinating their policies. This second affirmation may not of itself require more than the strengthening of existing bonds and an understanding on the problems connected with the security of the Atlantic. The first proposition quoted, however, implies only two possible hypotheses—the obligations assumed towards an international organization, such as UNO, or a war in which Portugal would feel that she had to make her contribution to the defense of the west, i.e., a war with Russia.
3.
As we are outside UNO, at least at the present moment, the question to be faced can only be the latter.
4.
We must now consider the juridical and political aspects of a possible cooperation.
5.
The question would be simplified, if within the framework of UNO, because of the obligations which the charter imposes on the member states. For the present, however, this road is closed.
6.
When we examine the same problem outside UNO, we have the following:
A.
Vis-à-vis ourselves, England has the position of an ally. Although this alliance is purely defensive, and the interpretation has been established that each party reserves the right to judge the casus foederis for itself, it is perfectly understandable that we should confer together in anticipation of a certain hypothesis and undertake mutual obligations for that eventuality. These obligations are necessary because Portugal, should she be outside UNO or should this organization not function, is in the event of her cooperation immediately exposed to risks, whether in metropolitan Portugal or in her colonial empire. These risks may be defined as follows: Portugal in the Iberian Peninsula; Portugal in Africa; Portugal in the Far East.
B.
This is not the position vis-à-vis the United States, and one may therefore enquire how this aspect of the problem may be faced. There is no doubt that the intervention of the US constitutes an element of security for peace loving nations in general; but this conclusion does not signify any undertaking in respect of the integrity and independence of any one nation in particular or of its dominions, nor does it involve any obligation as to the help to be given to such a nation to lessen the possibility of loss and damage. One recalls the case of Santa Maria and the agreement concerning our participation in the war in the Far East.16 We also refer to the American undertakings regarding the Portuguese colonial empire. We recall the difficulties to the conversations between the General Staffs.
7.
The development of these ideas raises the following question: Do you envisage, or regard as possible, any basis for a political agreement on which it might be reasonable and legitimate to build the hypothesis of cooperation in a certain way and for a certain period, against a certain risk or for a definite objective? (The question is asked because we do not have sufficient knowledge of the scope of the American Govt’s powers in this respect.)

II

1.
In whatever manner the first question is resolved, there remains the second, which may be considered practically independent of the first: There is no doubt that this question remains even if no agreement is reached on the collaboration outlined above: At least certain requirements of the forces of occupation remain. This second problem has not the same weight or political importance as the first but presents its own difficulties.
2.
In the first place we must state that we have every understanding of what are said to be the needs of the forces of occupation in Germany and in the Far East in the near future. They involve aerial communications, though these are at present at a reduced level, according to the average rate of those passing through Santa Maria.
3.
But one must make the following points.
A.
When the Santa Maria agreement was concluded, the Allies had already formed plans for the occupation of the enemy countries;
B.
The period of the Santa Maria agreement and its prolongation were exactly as requested by the American General Staff, which leads one to suppose that they were relying on a different solution for their military needs after the conclusion of the period in question;
C.
The Santa Maria agreement was connected with the war in the Far East and not with the war in Europe, which is a point that has since been somewhat forgotten.
4.
The American General Staff therefore had in mind in 1944 that their needs which exist today and were already foreseen at that time would be solved by a different formula than that which was adopted during the period of validity of the agreement. We have to see how it will be possible to facilitate or guarantee the passage of military aircraft to Europe and the Far East and reconcile the continuation of this service with the expiration of the Santa Maria agreement.
5.
As regards English aircraft, it appears that the question does not arise, because:
A.
England does not need to pass through the Azores as a necessity of the occupation of the enemy countries;
B.
The Lagens Agreement must already be considered to have lapsed. The Government, having been informed in September of the British Government’s intention of leaving Lagens, is only waiting for the clarification of certain details concerning the handing over of installations.

III

1.
I now turn to the third question.
2.
When this problem is examined solely on the plane of civil aviation, and in spite of the fact that the American Govt pays attention to the development of international aviation, we do not see how we can admit that Santa Maria merits its special concern. We are therefore led to believe that the real basis and objective of the proposals regarding Santa Maria, as of the reference which the British “memorandum of oral conversation” makes to Lagens, is the necessity of having two airfields in a state of preparation for the end envisaged in the first question. In one word: they must be in such a condition that from one moment to another they can change from commercial to military use.
3.
If this is the case, and in the event of agreement being reached on collaboration, we must seek a method of achieving that result which will take into consideration national susceptibilities, the functioning of whichever airport is destined for civil traffic and the continued use thereof.
4.
We start from the following points:
A.
The Government is anxious to open an airfield in Azores to commercial aviation. They have not wished to do so as yet in order not to allow civil flying and military occupation at the same airfield, and because Lagens as well as Santa Maria was used for military purposes. The Governments are awaiting the advice of their experts to make their choice between them. The other will be used as an emergency landing ground.
B.
The Government does not see [seek?] to avoid all or a part of the expenses which it will incur for the maintenance of the aerodromes, even above the level required for commercial use, should some agreement be reached containing the undertaking referred to in the first question.
C.
The principles of Portuguese policy and public administration do not allow the leasing or exploitation of civil airports by private entities, whether Portuguese or foreign. The exploitation of airports is made ‘em regie’ (autonomous administration by government functionaries). As far as the works or installations are concerned, this is not always the case; these may be conceded to private entities, and even to foreign private entities.
D.
The Government does not dispose of sufficiently numerous and experienced experts to take over at once and alone the operation of an airport like Santa Maria or Lagens. For this reason the Government contemplates, and wishes to enter into, special combinations with the American and British Governments for technical consultation, the training of Portuguese personnel, the supply of experts, the supply of the necessary apparatus and the knowledge of its use, under conditions to be determined. In the Santa Maria agreement provision is made for the sale of other than fixed apparatus, with the exception of secret appliances.
E.
The existence of or necessity for such secret appliances (should it continue) raises problems which will have to be considered separately.
F.
It is understood that it will be necessary to define, in the case of an agreement for military use, the improvements or alternations [alterations?] which the airfields will require for this purpose at any given moment”.

After Salazar read the three points covering his understanding of our proposal O’Malley called attention to fact of no reference to Lagens. He then stated very clearly that his Government wants the same arrangement for Lagens that we seek for Santa Maria and furthermore that the British Government fully supports the American proposal.

We stated at the conclusion of Salazar’s presentation that we would not undertake any reply at this time; that we would study his statement, obtain instructions from our Government and as soon as possible seek another interview with him. Salazar was quite friendly, said to come to him at any time if we wanted further clarification and that he was ready to continue discussions at any time. Please instruct.

[Page 972]

Sent to Dept as 395, repeated to Paris 61 for Matthews17 from Culbertson.

Baruch
  1. Outerbridge Horsey of the Division of Western European Affairs.
  2. Lt. Col. Fernando dos Santos Costa.
  3. Apparently this paper was dated May 2.
  4. For text of agreement between the United States and Portugal establishing form of indirect participation of Portugal in operations in the Pacific, signed at Lisbon November 28, 1944, see Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series, No. 2338; United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, vol. 2 (pt. 2), p. 2124. For documentation relating to the Agreement, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, pp. 1 ff.
  5. H. Freeman Matthews, Director of the Office of European Affairs; member of the United States Delegation at the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers at Paris.