338. Memorandum of Conversation0



Athens, Greece, May 4–6, 1962


  • United States
    • The Secretary of State
    • Mr. Kohler
    • Mr. West
  • Portugal
    • H.E. A. Franco Nogueira
    • H.E. V. de Cunha
    • Mr. P.P.B. de Sousa Pernes


  • Portuguese Foreign Minister Nogueira’s Allegations Regarding Anti-Portuguese Attitudes and Activities of U.S. Government and American Private Groups

This subject constituted the major topic of discussion of the meeting, which took place at a dinner given by the Secretary and which lasted over three hours. Foreign Minister Nogueira repeated many, but not all, of the complaints which he and other members of the Portuguese Foreign Office have made to our Embassy in Lisbon. (The only complaint with which all of the American participants in the discussion were unfamiliar was that concerning American relief activities in the Congo.)

Minister Nogueira’s approach to the subject was somewhat oblique, but later he became more specific. For example, in a discussion of the African independence movement, Minister Nogueira said he wondered whether the Secretary really thought some of the recently created African countries were really independent. He, Nogueira, considered that the Congo was not really independent but largely subject to UN and US direction. When the Secretary expressed his qualified agreement with the Minister’s statement, the latter then asked why the United States did not exercise more control over certain activities of the Congo Government. (The context of much of the conversation which followed indicated more clearly that the Foreign Minister was referring, albeit obliquely, to activities concerning Angolan rebel elements in Katanga.)

The Secretary brought up the question of the “forged letter” that the Minister had raised with Ambassador Elbrick earlier,1 and concerning [Page 923] which the Secretary had spoken to Ambassador Pereira earlier.2 The Secretary assured Minister Nogueira that a very careful study had been made by the United States Government and that the letter was an obvious forgery. He pointed out that there were powers who resorted to such devices to sow mistrust and dissension among allies. Minister Nogueira politely but firmly insisted that his Government knew that the letter in question was not a forgery. He was at liberty to discuss this letter because the source through which it had been obtained had since dried up. He had, however, many other documents which constituted proof of the role the United States was playing vis-à-vis Portugal. The Secretary stated that the United States Government would like to refute the Minister’s suspicions and, if necessary, would send a top member of J. Edgar Hoover’s staff to Lisbon to work with the Portuguese experts. Minister Nogueira was unresponsive to this specific suggestion.

The question of visas for American diplomatic couriers traveling in Portuguese Africa was also discussed. Minister Nogueira alleged that many of our couriers had not confined themselves to courier duties and that Portugal did not have enough PIDE agents to cover the activities of the number of couriers for whom visas had been requested. He suggested that one courier a month should be enough. The Secretary made it clear to Minister Nogueira that in diplomacy it was the prerogative of a country to determine what its own courier needs were, that the United States did not attempt to prescribe how many Portuguese couriers were needed for the Portuguese Embassy in Washington and that it was up to the United States to determine how many couriers it required in Africa. Mr. West pointed out that, in order to permit flexibility in the operation of the American courier system in Africa and because of the time required to obtain visas, it was necessary to obtain visas for more couriers than would actually be used. The Secretary invited Minister Nogueira to submit any evidence he might have of irregular activities by American couriers.

Minister Nogueira also raised a question of Ambassador Gullion’s request for visas to enable him and Mrs. Gullion to visit Luanda. He said that the Portuguese Government had been prepared to consider this request sympathetically, but when it was advised that the Gullion party would also consist of various military attachés, it became obvious that recreation was not the object of the trip. Mr. West pointed out that it was not unusual for American Ambassadors to employ the aircraft assigned to their Air Attachés for periodic recreational visits to points outside the countries to which they were accredited and that, for someone stationed [Page 924] in Leopoldville, Luanda was an understandable choice. The Minister’s only comment was that obviously Ambassador Stevenson did not have the same appreciation of the attractions of Angola.

Minister Nogueira raised the subject of the Methodist missionaries who had been arrested in Angola and sent to Portugal. He alleged that the Portuguese Government had acceded to requests from the American Embassy in Lisbon for the release of these persons on the condition that they would not engage further in anti-Portuguese activities but that, as soon as the missionaries in question returned to the United States, they commenced a campaign of public speeches misrepresenting conditions in Angola and designed to create hatred of Portugal. The Minister also complained about the activities of the American Committee on Africa. When the Secretary pointed out the difficulties under the American system of controlling the activities of religious and other private organizations, Minister Nogueira retorted that any nation which can control U.S. Steel is not powerless.

Minister Nogueira raised the subject of Ambassador Stevenson’s speech at Colgate University last March3 and took exception to the comparison between developments in Hungary and Angola. The Secretary pointed out that Ambassador Stevenson was not attempting to compare the two situations but was attempting to make the point that the feelings among black Africans with respect to Angola were in some respects comparable to the feelings which others had with respect to the suppression of the Hungarian people. The Minister also mentioned the portion of the Stevenson speech which pointed out that a U.N. resolution condemning South African racial policies had been supported by the entire General Assembly save for Portugal. The Minister expressed his pride in the Portuguese record of assimilating colored people and affording them equal opportunities. The Secretary expressed his regret that Governor Stevenson’s speech had been misinterpreted and assured Nogueira that measures had been taken to prevent the recurrence of such speeches. (The following day a copy of USUN’s press release #3934, giving the text of Ambassador Stevenson’s speech, was passed by the Portuguese Delegation to the American Delegation.)

The Secretary mentioned Ambassador Pereira’s speeches earlier this year before the Press Club of Washington and the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, and stated that he thought they were useful in telling the Portuguese story to the American public. They had served to bring out the fact that Portugal does envisage eventual self-determination in Portuguese Africa. In replying (to a portion of the Secretary’s comment), Foreign Minister Nogueira recalled that at a [Page 925] previous NATO meeting the Secretary had urged him to give attention to telling the Portuguese story. He added that the Portuguese Government was acting on this suggestion. In discussing Portuguese problems at the UN (see separate memorandum),4 the Secretary suggested the usefulness of putting various UN Delegations and key American political figures on the Portuguese mailing list. The Secretary and the Foreign Minister agreed that some progress had been made in telling the Portuguese story, but the latter said many difficulties were being encountered. Mr. West cited the objective treatment given to Angola by a series of articles by Estabrook in The Washington Post. Nogueira agreed that this series had been helpful but pointed out that after that Newsweek had seen fit to publish a completely distorted version of the Estabrook articles and that the Portuguese Embassy had been obliged to protest this treatment. He alleged that “people connected with the United States Government” were preventing the Portuguese story from being told in the United States.

The Minister noted that when order was restored in Northern Angola, in 1961, some 80,000 to 90,000 refugees who had fled to the Congo returned to their homes, as did many more who had gone to Southern Angola. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Red Cross had recognized this situation by cutting off aid as of January 15, 1962, but at that point American aid took over. The American aid program had encouraged refugees to remain in the Congo and had enabled Holden Roberto and the UPA to continue recruiting Angolan youths for the rebel forces. The Americans present for this discussion were not able to respond specifically to this allegation, and the Secretary said he would undertake to furnish Minister Nogueira with information on this subject prior to his departure from Athens. (In the event, it was not possible for the Secretary or other members of the American Delegation to get this information to Minister Nogueira before the latter’s departure from Athens and Ambassador Elbrick was asked to convey it to the Foreign Minister upon the latter’s return to Lisbon.)

During the course of the long conversation two brief exchanges served to characterize the Portuguese Government’s mood and the depth of its suspicions. At one point the Secretary inferred that the Portuguese mistrust of the United States reminded him of that of the Soviet Union. Foreign Minister Nogueira replied that the two extremes (of the political spectrum) tended to think alike. Near the end of the discussion the Foreign Minister stated, in response to the Secretary’s question as to what he thought American intentions really were, that he had “no confidence in U.S. intentions”.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.53/5–562. Secret. Drafted by West and approved in S on May 15. The meeting was held at the Ambassador’s residence. A summary of this conversation was transmitted to Lisbon in telegram 847, May 23. (Ibid., 611.53/5–2362)
  2. Elbrick reported his conversation with Nogueira on February 20 concerning the “forged letter” in telegram 840, February 21. (Ibid., 611.53/2–2162)
  3. A memorandum of Rusk’s conversation with Pereira on March 9 is ibid., 611.53/3–962.
  4. For text of Stevenson’s address at Colgate University, March 6, see Walter Johnson, ed., The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson, vol. VIII (New York: 1987), pp. 213–221.
  5. US/MC/25. (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 533, CF 2095)