168. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Portugal 1

211930. NATUS. Following is based on uncleared memcon,2 subject to change and is FYI Noforn only.

Portuguese FonMin Franco Nogueira met with Secretary, June 14 in Luxembourg. He recalled pre-ministerial meeting exchanges between [Page 342] GOP and USG re possibility his making full presentation Portugal’s African policy. FonMin said he had finally decided not make such presentation upon learning Secretary’s response would be reiteration long-standing US views on self-determination.
Referring to critical comments he had just made in NATO ministerial debate on Under Secretary Katzenbach’s statement to House Foreign Affairs Committee, June 6,3 Franco Nogueira said he strongly objected to what he took to be Under Secretary’s reference to racial problems in Angola and Mozambique. FonMin particularly regretted implication that Portuguese Africa was “infectious threat” to other African countries. He said statement also implied, incorrectly in his view, that except for southern Africa, political situation in continent was good. Portugal was seriously concerned, he said, at what it had to consider as official statement by responsible senior member State Department.
Secretary replied he would discuss matter with Under Secretary but wished to emphasize importance of some authentic expression of opinion by people of Angola and Mozambique on their future. He asked whether Portugal could anticipate likely results of plebiscite.
FonMin responded free plebiscite would undoubtedly result in large majority for status quo. Difficulty was, he said, that a vote under conditions acceptable to UN majority would seriously distort results. He said, UN would, for example, require prior withdrawal all Portuguese forces and return of exiled revolutionaries. Franco Nogueira said fact was that conditions for plebiscite could be drawn so as give any result desired. Portugal, he said, could not afford to start down such an uncertain road.
Secretary asked whether plebiscite would not be useful even if more extreme conditions desired by some UN members were not met. Important thing, in Secretary’s view, was that results be credible for world opinion.
FonMin recalled exchange between GOP and Ball in 19634 when GOP had asked whether US would be prepared give an advance undertaking support results of constitutional plebiscite whatever they might be. He said US response had been negative.
Secretary said might be useful on US side review 1963 exchange. He stated that large part of problem in southern Africa, notably in South Africa and Rhodesia, is maintenance of white rule by force. He was personally convinced this could not work in long run.
FonMin disagreed and expressed view most Africans in Rhodesia and South Africa support present regimes. While not questioning US right disagree with GOP’s African policy, he believed US policy based on refusal recognize reality. He said present situation in Angola and Mozambique is not only stable but has belied predictions made by US officials in early 1960’s. He said African inhabitants have full constitutional right at local and territorial levels as well as parliamentary representation in Lisbon. He said this circumstance has made no impression on those governments that long ago decided try and oust Portugal from Africa.
Referring to Mid-East, FonMin said GOP had refused subscribe to proposed Maritime Declaration5 for several reasons: Israeli policy on Portuguese Africa had been unfriendly; application of principles re freedom of seas not universally applied.
Re Rhodesia, FonMin said 169 tankers carrying petroleum had called at Portuguese African ports in past year—58 were British-owned or registered, 27 French and balance miscellaneous. He said not one of ships in question was Portuguese but Portugal was being made scapegoat. In his view it was up to governments involved control ships owned by their nationals or registered in their countries.
Secretary said that, if facts were as described, he thought Portugal had a point. In any case, he said, US has not been pressing Portugal on this matter.
FonMin said Portugal will not alter its course in Africa. He hoped find some way convince US of this. He suggested desirability further discussion between himself and Secretary.
Secretary said he would be in London in July for CENTO meeting6 and would consider whether it might perhaps be possible for him to visit Lisbon briefly at that time. In parting, Secretary said he hoped FonMin would consider whether some means could not be found for populations of Angola and Mozambique to give an authentic expression of their views on their future. He said this was very important for Portugal’s friends.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, NATO 3 LUX. Secret; Limdis. Drafted by Funseth, cleared by EUR, and approved by Springsteen. Pouched to Paris.
  2. Not found.
  3. Apparently a reference to Katzenbach’s testimony in support of the State Department budget. While the House Committee on Foreign Affairs held hearings on June 6, Katzenbach did not testify.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XIII, Document 357.
  5. Apparent reference to NATO’s decision to establish a Standing Naval Force, effective January 1, 1968.
  6. The meeting was cancelled.