175. Memorandum of Conversation1

THE SECRETARY’S VISIT TO MADRID AND LISBON

November 16-19, 1968

PARTICIPANTS

SUBJECT

  • Azores Base

The Foreign Minister stated that at the insistence of Prime Minister Caetano the Ministry of Defense was undertaking a study of the US use of the Azores Base at Lajes. This would be followed by a Foreign Ministry study. At sometime in the future, possibly before the end of the year, the GOP would make proposals either in Washington or in Lisbon on the base. It was not the intention of the GOP to be difficult or “fussy” about the base nor to cause the US any special problems. He saw the problem in the light of world conditions and in the mutual need for cooperation. With the continuing threat of the Soviet Union and of other world problems the need for cooperation between the US and European countries was important. On the other hand Portuguese African policy which had been under attack for ten years was now being seen by other countries in a different light. The Azores was one area where US-Portuguese cooperation was possible. Such cooperation was also possible in Africa and in Europe.

The Secretary pointed out that the US Government was now in the process of transition although it would be useful for him to inform his successor. The Foreign Minister immediately replied that the date of the Portuguese presentation had no significance.

In reply to the Secretary’s question the Foreign Minister stated that the GOP would deal only on a bilateral basis and was not interested in Lajes as a NATO base. The same policy applied to the Beja air base where the Germans, under the terms of a bilateral agreement, had certain rights and facilities. Some countries such as the Netherlands, [Page 360]Turkey and Greece had indicated interest in the use of the Beja base and had been turned down. The Foreign Minister also reiterated that local relations with regard to the Azores base were excellent. There were no outstanding problems except for a small administrative one of smuggling from the PX at Lajes which would have to be faced sometime in the future. He added that the Azores shipping agreement had worked out nicely. Portugal had not been entirely satisfied with the agreement, he said with a smile; therefore, it must be a good one.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, ORG 7 S. Secret. Drafted by Asencio and approved in S on December 3. The memorandum is Part VII of VIII; Part I is Document 174. The other memoranda of the conversation are in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, ORG 7 S. The meeting was held in the Foreign Ministry.