147. Telegram From the Embassy in Portugal to the Department of State1

100. Pass CNO; Chief Staff USAF; CINCLANT, Norfolk. This Joint Embassy–COMUSFORAZ message. Reference: Department telegram 23, July 26.2 Subject: Azores negotiations.

Defense Minister approached today and presented with requirements as per Department Instruction CA 1021, August 5.3 Although we are encouraged by Defense Minister’s cooperative attitude, he said he could not resolve matter of such magnitude without authorization of Dr. Salazar. Defense Minister suggested minor changes in our covering letter which he believed would place matter in best light for Dr. Salazar.

As was expected, the main points of difficulty which came out in our discussion with Defense Minister were the following:

Greatly augmented personnel ceilings,
Large additional land areas desired, and
Stationing of a fighter squadron at Lages.

Concerning (1), Santos Costa said we may have to be content with less on paper than the ceilings we have requested, but that in actual practice our personnel requirements would be met.

On (2) he called attention to political problem involved in dislocating so many families.

Comment: Our initial reaction is that we will probably get major land areas desired, but that we will be faced with dislocation costs.

Concerning (3) he emphasized that the near defense of Azores is Portugal’s responsibility, but he made it clear that for some time past he realized that United States would have to place fighter aircraft in Azores. In this connection, he made helpful suggestion which is being reported by despatch.4

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Santos Costa said that he would pass matter on to new Undersecretary for Air, Major Arriaga and General Costa Macedo, Chief Staff Air Force. He said he wanted favorable technical report from them backing up our request before talking to Dr. Salazar. He will be away from Lisbon from September 8 to 19, but said he hoped give us position of his Government by early October.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.56353B/9–155. Secret.
  2. Telegram 23 to Lisbon authorized Bonbright to begin negotiations and to request General Smith to make the initial approach. It also noted that no negotiating team would be sent from Washington, but that it might be possible to send military experts on spot assignments, if necessary. (Ibid., 711.56353B/7–155)
  3. CA–1021 was a detailed breakdown of personnel and land requirements for naval and air force operations on, and outside of, the Lajes Field. It also contained the assurance that these requirements represented the full peacetime requirements of the United States. (Ibid., 711.56353B/8–555)
  4. In despatch 137 from Lisbon, September 2, Bonbright reported more fully on the opening of the negotiations on September 1, and described a change in the U.S. draft with respect to the stationing of U.S. fighter planes at Lajes. Since Santos Costa suggested this change, it would be unnecessary for him to go into too much explanation on the subject. (Ibid., 711.56353B/9–255)