361. Memorandum of Conversation0

SUBJECT

  • U.S.-Portuguese Relations

PARTICIPANTS

  • The President
  • Alberto Franco Nogueira, Foreign Minister of Portugal
  • Dr. Pedro Theotónio Pereira, Ambassador of Portugal
  • Ambassador C. Burke Elbrick
  • Assistant Secretary William R. Tyler

The President told the Foreign Minister he was glad to see him, and that he welcomed the chance of discussing with him the general state of relations between our two countries. He said he was aware that there were certain differences between us on how to handle various problems, but he hoped that means might be found to draw our two countries closer together again, in the atmosphere of friendship and cooperation which is characteristic of our traditional relationship.

The Foreign Minister thanked the President for receiving him and said that he on his part wished to do all that he could to improve relations. [Page 563]He agreed that there were certain differences between us which were in part due to the importance which the United States attaches to the United Nations, and to the role which the United States plays there. He said that Portugal had certain vital national interests in Africa which are under attack and that Portugal was defending not only her own interests but those of the free world. He said that the whole of Africa was unstable politically, and that if things continued as they are now going the African Continent would become Communist.

The President pointed out that the broad currents of nationalism in the world, including Africa, were creating new demands and stimulating new aspirations on the part of the peoples of Africa, and that unless farsighted and forward looking policies were adopted to meet these demands, we would run into even greater difficulties and make our tasks harder. He said that it was evident from what had happened to former French, Belgian, and British territories in Africa that these pressures stemmed from the basic desires of the populations and were not due to any external agency. He said that the United States had not played a large role in Africa. However, we were concerned that events should move in direct consistency with the broad and peaceful interests of the free world and hoped that the Portuguese Government would pursue policies which would lead toward the creation and strengthening of free societies.

The Foreign Minister repeated at some length the classic Portuguese position with regard to the United Nations, and said that it was a forum for the formulation of extreme, unreasonable, and hostile accusations and demands, which could not be met without creating chaos and paving the way for Communist domination.

The President asked the Foreign Minister whether Portugal could not see its way to proclaiming publicly its acceptance of the principle of self-determination. This would constitute an important move forward by Portugal in the direction of protecting and preserving her position and influence in Africa.

The Foreign Minister said that Portugal was not opposed to the principle of self-determination, but that it was not possible for her to take a public position on this. Were she to do so, the Afro-Asian members of the United Nations would then call on her to carry out immediately the provisions of the resolutions that had already been voted, calling for the prompt granting of independence to Angola and Mozambique “by the end of this year”.

The conversation concluded with the President expressing his hope that ways would be found to reduce the differences between us so that Portugal and the United States could cooperate more closely in the face of the many grave problems facing both countries.

  1. Source: Department of State, President’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 66 D 149. Confidential. Drafted by Tyler and approved in the White House on October 29.