403. Letter From the Permanent Representative to the United Nations (Goldberg) to Secretary of State Rusk1

Dear Dean:

As you know, we are faced with two difficult Security Council exercises over the next few weeks—one on the Portuguese Territories and one on apartheid. I have had a look at some of the staff papers that have been prepared on both of these questions and have had several long discussions with Joe Sisco regarding our present and future policies.

With respect to the Portuguese Territories, I appreciate receiving the go-ahead to try to get the Portuguese and the Africans together in some kind of a dialogue based on the principle of self-determination, defined in such a way as to leave open all possible options, i.e., independence, free association, or integration. I am not sanguine that the Portuguese will show any flexibility at this time, particularly in view of the negative statements being made regarding self-determination in the Portuguese election campaign. Nevertheless, such an attempt on our part will at least help to demonstrate our bona fides to the Africans and might even provide the basis for a Security Council resolution calling for discussions on the principle of self-determination.

I know on of the important considerations in our policy has been the need to retain the Azores. I discussed this point with Bob McNamara the other day and he is of the view that while the Azores are useful and convenient, they are not essential. I would like to see the Defense Department clearly on record to this effect so that we will be in a stronger position in the future to persuade the Portuguese to begin a practical dialogue with the Africans. I hope, therefore, that looking toward the future you can seek in a more formal way from the Defense Department its latest assessment regarding the utility of the Azores.

Regarding apartheid, although as you know I favor an active interim approach including a number of specific steps, I agree that basically our position is sound, that we should continue to re-state our unalterable opposition to apartheid, that pending the Court decision on South West Africa we should continue to oppose sanctions while maintaining our full arms embargo. However, both as regards any steps we may wish to [Page 692] take now as well as contingency planning for eventualities following the Court’s decision, we are somewhat hampered by our present dependence on the South Africans for our complex of space tracking stations. In the same conversation with Bob McNamara, I asked for his informal judgment on the degree of our dependence, and he once again said that there are practical alternatives available but that Defense would need a little time (presumably a few months) in order to develop other arrangements. Joe Sisco tells me July 1966 is the current target date, but we may not have this much time. For my part, therefore, I should like to urge the need to move along quickly with the plans for these alternative sites.

In short, I hope that we can get the Defense Department to focus both on the question of the Azores and on our tracking stations in South Africa from a military point of view in the hope that their current assessment will give us more flexibility to deal with these problems politically.


  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 10 PORT/UN. Secret.