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

132. Department pass USLO from Freeman; CINCLANT and COMUSFORAZ. Paris pass CINCEUR for Wallner and Knight. Foreign Minister sent for me late yesterday and expressed his personal regrets that press of other matters, including recent conference in London, had made it impossible for him to talk to me sooner about Azores. In view of fact that date of September 1 was mentioned in Article 2 (2) of 1951 defense agreement he wished to hand me communication which he hoped would set at rest any doubt my government might have concerning Portuguese interpretation of when under that agreement period specified for completion of facilities would end.

Communication reads as follows:

“With reference to the defense agreement between Portugal and the United States of America signed on September 6, 1951, the modification of which has been requested by the Government of the United States of America, I wish to inform Your Excellency that although it has as yet not been possible for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to undertake the negotiations looking towards that modification, it is however the intention of the Portuguese government to begin those negotiations at an early date.

Due to the period of grace assured in the final part of paragraph 2 of Article 2 of the agreement in question, the period stipulated in Article 7 of that agreement for the evacuation of American personnel and withdrawal of equipment and supplies will not begin before January 1, 1957. It is believed that before that date it will have been possible to take a position with respect to the alterations requested.”

I told him frankly that this was most disappointing since there was implication that we might have to wait another four months before bringing this matter to conclusion. I pointed out that Azores were presently defenseless and that it was now a year since military authorities of our two countries had started discussions regarding new requirements which both regarded as important to our mutual defense. When I asked him what he meant by beginning negotiations “at an early date” he said he had every hope that he would be in position to talk to me by end of September or early October and that matter would be “clarified” before he left for meeting of UNGA in November.

[1 paragraph (7½ lines of source text) not declassified]

[Page 458]

Since Cunha had seen Salazar previous day it was certain that he was reflecting latter’s views. Queiros confirmed to me subsequently that Azores was one issue on which Cunha powerless to move without green light from Salazar. [2 lines of source text not declassified], I seriously doubt if there is anything which we could do to move Salazar at this stage. I shall try next week to see if we can get Santos Costa to carry torch but if this fails believe we must resign ourselves to Cunha’s timetable.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.56353B/9–156. Secret; Noforn. Repeated to Paris.
  2. On September 7, Bonbright reported that Santos Costa confirmed that the Government of Portugal was delaying negotiations pending the outcome of the U.S. election and Nehru’s visit. (Telegram 143 from Lisbon, September 7; Department of State, Central Files, 711.56353B/9–756)