149. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, December 2, 1955, 3 p.m.1


  • Problems of Concern to Portugal


  • Portuguese:
    • His Excellency Dr. Paulo Cunha, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal
    • His Excellency Senhor Luis Esteves Fernandes, Ambassador of Portugal
    • The Honorable Dr. Henrique Bacelar Caldeira Queiroz, Deputy Director General of Political Affairs of Portugal
  • United States:
    • The Honorable John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State
    • The Honorable James C. H. Bonbright, American Ambassador to Portugal
    • The Honorable Livingston T. Merchant, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
    • Mr. Ellwood M. Rabenold, Jr., Portuguese Desk

The Portuguese Foreign Minister, Dr. Cunha, met with the Secretary in the Department at 3:00 p.m. on December 2 in order to continue the discussions begun November 30. (See prior memo of Conversation dated November 30.)2

The Secretary told the Foreign Minister that, although he had not yet had an opportunity to read it, he understood that Dr. Cunha had made a very good speech at noon before the National Press Club. Dr. Cunha nodded with a smile and said yes, he thought he had made a good speech. He added that the speech included a statement about Mr. Nehru’s remarks concerning Goa which the Secretary had suggested to him at their prior meeting. The Foreign Minister then asked the Secretary whether he had any further thoughts on the subjects which were taken up on November 30. The Secretary answered affirmatively, saying that there were a few comments he would like to make regarding both Macao and the additional U.S. military requirements in the Azores.


The Secretary stated that in the current talks in Geneva with the Chinese Communists, the U.S. was endeavoring to obtain a statement from the Chinese Communists that they would renounce the use of force to change the status quo in the Far East. The U.S. had in mind, among other places, the island of Formosa (a name taken from the Portuguese, meaning “beautiful”) and Macao. In order to persuade the Chinese Communists to issue such a statement, the U.S. was offering on behalf of the Western allies a relaxation of trade controls involving China. The Secretary urged that the Portuguese Government be patient in its desire for a relaxation of trade controls with respect to Macao until the outcome of the present Geneva talks was determined. The Secretary remarked that he was rather encouraged by the latest report from Geneva as to how these discussions were proceeding. Dr. Cunha stated that he didn’t realize the subject of trade controls in the Far East was being discussed in Geneva and that he understood the importance of what the U.S. Government was trying to do. He said that it was clear to him that the Portuguese Government should wait until the position of the Chinese Communists was more definitely known.

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The Secretary then informed Dr. Cunha that he had a few thoughts on the subject of additional military requirements in the Azores. He said that the U.S. Government would want to take up shortly with the Portuguese Government the question of the renewal of the 1951 Agreement. Dr. Cunha interrupted him to say that he had advised Mr. Gordon Gray in the Defense Department just the night before3 that the U.S. Government should negotiate its new requirements at the political level since it was clear that what it wanted militarily involved serious political questions. The Secretary replied that in his estimation each Government would have to approach these negotiations in the manner which it deemed fitting and that on the U.S. side it might be considered appropriate for discussions to take place at two levels, the political and the military. He added that, of course, any agreement reached at the military level would be subject to the approval of the respective Foreign Ministers. Dr. Cunha agreed, but said that he had carefully reviewed all the military aspects of the new requirements, which were quite clear, and that now the talks between the two countries would have to be on a political level. He asked when, in the Secretary’s opinion, these latter should begin. The Secretary replied that it was his thought that the negotiations would take place in Lisbon between the Foreign Minister and Ambassador Bonbright and that a draft agreement would be prepared as soon as possible and presented to Dr. Cunha for his review. There was general approval of this procedure.

The conversation then turned to the matter of a communiqué which the Secretary said he understood the Portuguese wanted. Drafts and redrafts were prepared and discarded until 4:30 when the Secretary excused himself for another appointment and the group repaired to Mr. Merchant’s office where a joint communiqué was finally agreed upon. The text is attached.4 The Portuguese Foreign Minister left Mr. Merchant’s office about 6:00 p.m.

  1. Source: Department of State, EUR Files: Lot 57 D 108, Cunha Visit. Secret. Drafted by Rabenold on December 5.
  2. Supra.
  3. A memorandum of this December 8 conversation, prepared by Rabenold, is in Department of State, Central Files, 753.5–MSP/12–855.
  4. Not printed. For text of the communiqué, see Department of State Bulletin, December 12, 1955, pp. 966–967.