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261. Telegram From the Embassy in Portugal to the Department of State1

1954. Reference: State 105049 and 107754.2 Subject: Boeing 707s for Portuguese Air Force.

1. Following receipt of State 105049 I waited until July 8 to ask for appointment with Foreign Minister since he had told me he would consult further with his government colleagues and in hope TAP would be agreed as purchaser since this formula obviously preferable from USG viewpoint.

2. However it has become increasingly clear from what I have learned locally as well as from State 107754 that Boeing has been keeping Portuguese Government informed of every move made by USG towards sale of aircraft. (It has been equally clear that the company has not been informing GOP with same alacrity of difficulties encountered.) For this reason it seemed clear that should I delay informing FonMin of our willingness to consider sale of 707s to a Portuguese civilian agency as possible alternative to TAP, GOP might have drawn unfavorable conclusions.

3. I informed FonMin that we would be willing to consider a civilian agency as a possible alternative to TAP for purchasing the Boeing 707s. I told him we would of course want to know what particular agency GOP had in mind, specifying that it should be a logical purchaser. I added that TAP remained our distinct preference and that I had not given up hope that GOP would take this step in our direction in order to help USG with its problems.

4. FonMin expressed real appreciation for effort which USG had made to accommodate GOP. He would bear in mind our preference for TAP in further consultations with his government colleagues and specially with Secretary of State for Air General Nascimento. At same time he thought he should tell me that Boeing had let it be known to its Portuguese Government contacts that it did not favor sale to TAP and pre[Page 817]ferred outright deal with PAF. I responded that I was not familiar with Boeing’s corporate considerations but that he could consider my communication as being definitely USG’s position.3

Knight
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 701, Country Files—Europe, Portugal, Vol. I. Confidential; Priority; Exdis.
  2. In telegram 105049, July 1, the Department of State informed the Embassy that “USG willing consider Portuguese civilian agency as possible alternative to TAP as intermediary for purchasing Boeing 707s. We would of course want to know what particular agency GOP has in mind. It should be one which could be considered logical purchaser.” (Ibid.) Telegram 107754 to Lisbon, July 7, reported that Boeing would be informing the Portuguese Government that it was unable to deliver the first contracted aircraft on schedule due to delays in decisionmaking by the U.S. Government. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, AV 12–5 PORT)
  3. In telegram 2058 from Lisbon, July 17, Knight reported that the Portuguese Government was considering purchase though its Civilian Aeronautics Directorate and requested authorization to inform the Foreign Ministry that the U.S. Government explicitly recognized the Directorate’s right to transfer or lease the aircraft to the Portuguese Air Force. In telegram 116251, July 20, the Department of State replied: “You are authorized give formal assurances to GOP that it will be able obtain spare parts for Boeing 707’s without difficulty even if aircraft subsequently operated by PAF.” (Both ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 701, Country Files—Europe, Portugal, Vol. I)