146. Telegram From Delegation at the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting to the Department of State1

Secto 29. Secretary met this afternoon2 for half hour with Cunha. MacArthur and Merchant were present.

Cunha opened with laudatory remarks about Amb. Bonbright and stated that it was clear latter would greatly contribute to excellent relations.

Cunha then stated that the Goa problem was a capital one for Portugal. Goa is little spot on the map, and Portugal has no material interests there; in fact, Portugal’s presence there is a financial drain on her. Position of Portugal vis-à-vis India, however, is one that has been developed over centuries and significance of Goa to Portuguese history is far greater, for example, than was that of Pondicherry to French.

Cunha commented that though India took theoretical position of pacifism and neutralism, her actions were sometimes of quite another order. He stressed in this connection that US position on Goa extremely important to Portugal. He acknowledged discreet efforts US has made with GOI urging prudence and restraint, but now he would like to learn firm US position on this problem, which “goes to the roots of his nation.”

The Secretary acknowledged need for studying problem thoroughly and referred to remarks he made few hours before in Council to effect that not always easy to find solution simply by looking at map.

Cunha stated Portugal’s position Goa dated back to beginning 16th century and that since then a culture entirely different from that of the rest of India had been built up, a fact, incidentally, publicly [Page 443] acknowledged by Nehru in utterances of his assuring preservation of this culture when Goa would be absorbed into Indian Union. Cunha said that he recognized US faced difficulties in taking position on this matter with Indian Union. He stressed, however, that there remained very few spots in Asia still under Western influence.

Merchant pointed out that US and Portuguese positions on Goa are not in conflict. Question is whether US intervention with India is more effective if made privately or publicly; Portugal has been asking for public intervention. Cunha confirmed this, stating that other countries would not take position because US had not found it possible openly to do so. The Secretary indicated that question public statement US view merits further study.

Cunha stated he feared that problem was approaching another acute phase. He added that the Portuguese were convinced that so far armed conflict had been prevented mainly through the influence of international public opinion. In reply to queries by Secretary, Merchant stated that British have taken public stand supporting Portugal, and Cunha pointed out that no specific reference to Goa had been made at Bandung.

Cunha then briefly turned to Macao, whose trade with China, he said, insignificant as it was but necessary for its survival, was encountering difficulties created for it by US policy. He remarked that problems Goa and Macao, though they appeared minor for US, loomed very large to Portugal. Secretary assured Cunha we would give these matters careful consideration.

Cunha then stated that with Asia largely lost to West, position of Africa will prove of increasing concern. Referring to the Secretary’s statement earlier today to effect that Asia being lost piece-meal, he observed that beginnings of that process were already evident in Africa and that India and China were developing increasing interest in that continent, which is so essential for the maintenance of Europe. Secretary agreed with Cunha as to importance of this developing problem.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 448. Confidential. Repeated to Lisbon and New Delhi.
  2. May 10.