90. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • United States
    • The Secretary of State
    • Ambassador Knight
    • Diego Asencio, Political Officer
  • Portugal
    • Prime Minister Marcello Caetano
    • Ambassador Garin
    • Antonio Patricio, Chief, International Political Organizations


  • Portuguese and U.S. Policies in Africa

In answer to the Secretary’s question on how he saw the future in Angola and Mozambique, Prime Minister Caetano stated that there were now fifth and sixth generation Portuguese in those provinces. They were building a non-discriminatory society based on a mixed race. This required time. If independence could be granted to these provinces along the lines of the American colonies in 1776 or of Brazil in 1822 there would be no problem as far as he was concerned. However, the type of independence that would satisfy the United Nations was a danger to civilization and would lead to the implantation of communism in that area at great risk to Rhodesia and South Africa. As happens in subversive wars, the problem was the winning of the spirit of the people through economic and social progress rather than the killing of the enemy. Prime Minister Caetano concluded by stating that the Portuguese policy was to make the people realize that the assurances of Portuguese sovereignty were worth more than the uncertainties of an adventure with an unpredictable outcome.

The Secretary stated that he was pleased that Portugal had conveyed the feeling to the outside world that there was some liberalization in Portugal with the continued maintenance of stability. On Africa we hoped to have a fairly practical policy in that we were going to assist African nations in economic development and otherwise. We were not as concerned about the extent of communist penetration as some other nations seemed to be, since the danger compared to prior periods seemed to have lessened. We did see a major problem in the years ahead of confrontation between blacks and whites and this caused concern.

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The Secretary stated that he would like to suggest that we understood Portugal’s problems and the Portuguese point of view. Just as we intended to be very understanding of these problems and the steps taken, he hoped the Portuguese would be understanding of the problems we faced in the United States, the United Nations, and with other countries. We would prefer to work out a future relationship in such a way that we were not asked or made to appear to either support or oppose Portuguese policies. He added that we were anxious to maintain cordial relations and valued our partnership in NATO. We certainly supported the direction in which Portugal was moving. Prime Minister Caetano replied that while the United States should not have to commit itself to Portuguese policy, there must be many concrete points where Portuguese policy could be supported since these points were in support of world peace.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL PORT–US. Confidential; Exdis. Part III of III. The meeting was held at Catalazete Fort. Rogers was in Portugal to meet with Caetano and senior Portuguese officials.