The Ambassador in Portugal (Baruch) to the Secretary of State
[Received 6:05 p.m.]
411. Emtel 395 May 5. For Hickerson from Culbertson. I had a conversation yesterday and another this morning with Mathias21 in an effort to clarify certain points brought out in Salazar’s memo. At yesterday’s meeting Mathias gave me a 1½-hour monologue with regard to Portugal’s position under point A of Salazar’s memo. Basically he presented nothing new. At this morning’s meeting I told him that I found it difficult to understand the statements in Salazar’s memo to the effect that the Portuguese have every understanding of our needs in connection with our occupation in Germany and the three points which Salazar made in this connection. I indicated that these three points in some measure seem to negate the statement of understanding. [Page 974]… I could only draw one conclusion and that was that they were making an effort to make it clear that our present agreement will come to an end on June 2 and that any new agreement must have a new basis.
I then asked Mathias whether he was familiar with the discussions between Gen. Kuter and the Minister of War and more particularly whether he had seen Kuter’s letter of May 6 and the enclosures thereto especially the “working paper”.22 He said that he had not seen these papers altho he had had a brief talk with the Minister of War. I then allowed him to read my copy of Kuter’s letter and the “working paper”. (These documents were sent to you thru military channels leaving here May 6 and should now be in your hands.) Mathias read thru the “working paper” in what seemed to me a very short time. Even before completing the reading he practically “blew a gasket” and said that under no circumstances would Portugal ever accept an agreement such as that proposed; that the spirit was entirely unsatisfactory and furthermore that he would resign his position before agreeing to any such arrangement between Portugal and the US. I made no comment other than to say that I would appreciate it if he or Dr. Salazar would arrange for an early meeting between the Minister of War and Kuter in order that those “soldier to soldier” discussions could be concluded. Mathias agreed to arrange such a meeting.
Until Kuter has had his talk with the Minister of War it will be difficult to give balanced judgment to Mathias’ actions and statements of this morning; however, I find it hard to believe that Mathias would go so far out on a limb without being relatively sure of his ground. Nevertheless, I prefer to hold up on our seeing Salazar again until Kuter has had his talk. Mathias’ attitude leads me to the following preliminary conclusions: The Portuguese expect Santa Maria to be turned over to complete Portuguese control on June 2; they will want our technical assistance; they think they can operate a commercial airfield and plan to try it; they envisage an arrangement whereby our military aircraft may use their two fields in transit to and from US and our zone. They do not envisage the existence at Santa Maria of any military personnel to assist in this transit operation.
I might add that I raised with Mathias the question of removal of our property and he was very specific in saying that that was a mechanical problem which could easily be handled. Please let me have your views.[Page 975]
Kuter and I are seeing O’Malley this afternoon when we will let him read this telegram and will suggest that he himself undertake discussions with Mathias in order to sound him out in more detail and make clear that the American proposals have British support and cooperation.
Sent Dept 411; repeated Paris for Matthews as 64. [Culbertson.]
- Marcello Mathias, Director General of Political Affairs in the Portuguese Ministry for Foreign Affairs.↩
- Memorandum of General Kuter’s conversation with the Portuguese Minister of War on May 2 and the attached draft treaty entitled “Working Paper”, not printed. The draft agreement quoted in telegram 511, May 21, p. 983, embodies the salient points of the “Working Paper”.↩