811.34553B/5–1646: Telegram

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

top secret
us urgent

433. For Hickerson. We are delivering following to Salazar this afternoon. It has O’Malley’s O.K.

“Notes for basis of further oral discussion between Dr. Salazar, Mr. Culbertson and General Kuter.

Careful consideration and study have been given to the important statements made by the President of the Council on May 2, 1946 to the British Ambassador and the American negotiators.27 Advice has been received from Washington.

There are two essential elements in the American proposals (a) the Govt of the US seeks to obtain from the Portuguese Govt the grant of facilities and privileges in the Azores similar in character and extent to those provided for in the agreement of November 28, [Page 979]1944. These facilities and privileges were originally granted in connection with the prosecution of the recent global war. They are now desired in order that the US may thus the better fulfill the post war responsibilities and obligations it has assumed in connection with Germany and Japan. It should be recognized that the new pattern of cooperation among states seeking the common goal of peace and security allows for the use by one nation of facilities of another nation without in any way impairing the sovereignty of the accommodating nation. Underlying every feature of the American proposals has been unqualified recognition and respect for Portuguese sovereignty. In exchange for the facilities and privileges requested the US is offering to Portugual intangible advantages as well as financial, technical and other assistance in the maintenance and development of its civil airports in the Azores; (b) the Govt of the US feels that Portugal, as one of the Atlantic powers, has a direct and mutual interest in these proposals because of their basic political implications and their relation to security in the Atlantic. For this reason discussions have included, with full frankness, the potentialities inherent in the world situation as it exists today, or may exist tomorrow. These potentialities in most respects involve elements of concern shared by both our Govts.

In his statement made on May 2 the President of the Council set off the British and the American proposals in three parts.

(I) The US is associated with the principal and other Allied powers in the UNO, the main precept of which is to assure, through cooperation and mutual understanding, peace and security to the world; The UNO shall continue to receive the full support and best efforts of the US and we must assume that other nations will act accordingly. Fundamentally, therefore, we cannot assume that the cooperation sought of Portugual has as its hypothesis a conflict with any particular country. Nevertheless, adjustments and understandings remain to be made between the Allies themselves as well as between the Allies and their former enemies. The proposed cooperation has as its great intangible advantage to Portugal and as its new hypothesis provision for mutual security against any threat to peace in the Atlantic from any source. Both nations, therefore, have an important contribution to make to this end. Mutual cooperation for the purposes envisaged will likewise afford a considerable measure of security for the world as a whole. For this latter reason it is envisaged that the facilities of the Azores might be made available to the Security Council on the call of that body, if and when Portugal so desires. Recognition of its responsibilities and obligations to the rest of the world, and its collaboration with the US in measures, affecting security in the Atlantic [Page 980]open the way for Portugal’s participation with all other peace loving nations in the task of maintaining world stability.

In his statement of May 2 the President of the Council asked whether we ‘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 definitive objective’.

The answer to this question would of necessity be determined by the meaning of ‘basis for a political agreement’. Because of acknowledged factors in American history and political structure, the Govt of the US would not undertake a formal, specific, bilateral agreement with Portugal by which is guaranteed the integrity of the Portuguese empire against aggression from any or all sources. On the other hand, the US is, of course, prepared to reiterate its own assurances with regard to its full respect of Portuguese territory and sovereign position therein. Insofar as the political situation in the Atlantic is concerned it is considered very important that full appreciation be given to the fact that the US has, as a member of the UN, assumed definite obligations and responsibilities to assist in the maintenance of the security and peace of the world. It follows, therefore, that any physical threat to the peace and security of Portugal or Portuguese territory would be a matter of immediate concern to the US, particularly when Portuguese and American interests have been joined in the Azores.

II. With respect to the second question the interpretation expressed by the President of the Council is in complete harmony with the American proposals concerning the requirements for lines of communication to the occupation zones.

Reference was made to the fact that the US Govt in 1944 did not negotiate for rights in the Azores to extend for the period of the occupation of Germany and Japan. It has been suggested that apparently the US Govt at that time was not interested in such rights. Such was not the case.

At the time that the present agreement was negotiated, the Portuguese Govt, as indicated by the President of the Council, was faced with certain juridical problems which apparently prevented the Govt from making any commitments regarding the use of the Azores in connection with hostilities against Germany.

For this reason it was then assumed that the Portuguese Govt would not entertain more extensive proposals than were made at that time.

III. The President of the Council’s deduction that the US Govt’s interests in civil commercial developments at Santa Maria are [Page 981]prompted in a large decree [degree] by the security aspects which such developments afford is in accord with the American view.

The decision as to whether Santa Maria or Lagens shall be the principal or the alternative civil commercial airdrome is obviously for determination by the Govt of Portugal. The US offers the advice of experienced technical personnel that operating conditions are less hazardous at Santa Maria.

In exchange for the privileges and facilities which are desired in the Azores by the US Govt, Portugal will receive reciprocal benefits of equal or greater value. The US Govt is prepared to provide technical and financial assistance and trained personnel in generous amounts for the development, maintenance and operation by Portugal of Acrean airport at Santa Maria, linked to the field at Lagens. With proper development this unit will become the crossroads of the air in the Atlantic.

Buildings constructed at the airport and permanent equipment installed there will, of course, accrue to the unqualified ownership of Portugal. Portuguese personnel indoctrinated in the aeronautical techniques developed by the world foremost airmen will be another major national asset. It is anticipated that at the end of a 10–year period American technicians will have been entirely replaced by Portuguese technicans trained at American schools or at work. Only those American technicians introducing the newest and most advanced equipment and techniques would be expected to be in the Azores.

By encouraging the development of a great air center in the Azores, Portugal makes a substantial contribution to the attainment of that more durable peace and that greater prosperity so desired by all the world.

Concluding, it is believed that these additional statements, which have been made in response to the memorandum of May 2nd, can form the basis for a mutually acceptable understanding and that the two Govts can agree upon language necessary to confirm the same. It would be most helpful if the Portuguese Govt now deemed it advisable to draft a statement of the new hypothesis which would be satisfactory to it, in both form and substance, and which would at the same time embody these points upon which mutual agreement is deemed probable. [”]

  1. For substance of the statements, quoted in telegram 395, May 5, see pp. 968 971.