125. Telegram 203571 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Portugal1
Subj: Lajes Flights.
1. Chargé should deliver following message from the President for Prime Minister Caetano:
2. Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
This is a difficult moment for world peace and Portuguese/U.S. relations.
What we are doing is designed to support the end of hostility and bring a durable peace to the Middle East, but we need your cooperation to do this.
Our Chargé has explained what we require.
We cannot at this time bargain with you about hypothetical results which may stem from your cooperation. We are not able to provide you with the specific weapons requested by your Foreign Minister. If you are threatened by terrorism or an oil boycott as a result of your help for [Page 446]world peace, we would be willing to consult with you on what steps we can jointly take.
I would be most grateful for your own careful consideration of my thoughts and our common problem. You know that time is important to us both.
I must tell you in all frankness Mr. Prime Minister that your failure to help at this critical time will force us to adopt measures which cannot but hurt our relationship. If we have look to alternative routes, this will be a factor which would be recalled should the eventualities to which your Foreign Minister refers actually take place.
I make this request to you personally Mr. Prime Minister. With all my best wishes, sincerely, Richard Nixon.
3. Chargé should point out that if the attitude of the Portuguese becomes known to our Congress it will destroy what support they now have left in that body. He should further indicate that this is a strictly private communication from the President and that we expect its confidentiality to be maintained.
4. This message also being briefed to Portuguese Ambassador Themido in Washington.
The Department forwarded a letter from Nixon for delivery to Caetano on the use of the Lajes
Base for Middle East resupply.
Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 701, Country Files, Europe, Portugal, Vol. II (1972–1974) (2 of 2). Secret; Flash; Nodis. Drafted by Pickering; cleared by Stabler and Eagleburger; and approved by Kissinger. In telegram 3781 from Lisbon, October 13, the Embassy reported that Patricio, “visibly upset by” the tone of Nixon’s letter, argued that Portugal was neither bargaining nor being unresponsive and, given the “serious risks” Portugal faced, it needed more than vague reassurances that the United States and Portugal would consult. (Ibid., Portugal, Vol. II (1972–1974) (1 of 2))↩