The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Portugal (Baruch)
526. For Culbertson from Hickerson. Your 460 May 23, 7 p.m. Because of second paragraph of your 428, May 15, your message came as complete surprise to us. We had assumed because of Mathias statement that there would be no difficulty about a temporary extension of present arrangements and based all our negotiations on this assumption.
It would be difficult for us to agree to a press statement or public ceremony on June 2 of sort suggested in your message. We would be criticized for not having obtained an extension of this agreement to permit the use of the airfield by our military planes as at present to meet universally recognized need for line of communication between our occupation forces. Portugal’s attitude would probably be criticised to such an extent that a future agreement might be jeopardized, Portugal’s attitude would be assailed in our press and in Congress as being unreasonable, ungrateful and uncooperative.[Page 989]
Please see Salazar urgently at once and endeavor to convince him of the necessity of our position for continued use of the field on a month to month basis after June 2nd without any kind of public statement which could only render more difficult the present negotiations. We are trying to find a satisfactory formula for a public statement to be issued on the conclusion of an agreement. We find it difficult to believe that if our position is explained Mr. Salazar will decline to agree to a reasonable extension on such basis of our use of the facilities at Santa Maria without a public statement which could only embarrass and render more difficult for both countries the conduct of the present negotiations.
Keep us urgently informed of the developments in this situation. You must realize that we are in no position to agree to begin evacuation of these islands by June 2nd.
The Secretary is preparing a personal message to send to you for delivery to Mr. Salazar in the foregoing sense. [Hickerson.]