233 Evatt to Curtin

Cablegram EC27 LONDON, 1 July 1943, 12.44 a.m.


1. In my immediately following telegram I am sending you text of aide-memoire setting out the present position as regards very important conversations between United Kingdom, United States and Portuguese Governments directed to invoking Anglo-Portuguese alliance and obtaining facilities in Azores as a base for United Nations aircraft and ships. [1]

2. You will see that the United Kingdom Government ask us to agree to associate ourselves with Anglo-American assurances to Portugal regarding maintenance of Portuguese sovereignty over their eastern possessions, i.e., Timor and Macao (you will note that Goa is not mentioned). As you will see the Portuguese Government may ask for Australian guarantee. Churchill and Eden have both expressed to me their anxiety that we should co-operate and I have indicated our general willingness to do so. The military significance of the Azores is of course very great.

3. However this may offer a good opportunity to discuss the future of Portuguese Timor. Our giving a guarantee of retention of sovereignty over Portuguese Timor means no more than we would be prepared or have to do in any case. It does not affect defence control or economic arrangements. In my opinion we need not hesitate to extend this general guarantee to Macao as well.

4. My general reply to the United Kingdom Minister [sic] was on the following lines- (a) We are prepared to agree to participate in the general guarantee of sovereignty if Portuguese press it.

(b) We think that as soon as is reasonably possible the Portuguese Government should denounce the continuance of Japanese occupation and also agree to participate in operations to expel the Japanese from Portuguese Timor.

(c) We also think that the Portuguese Government should recognize Australia's fight to preserve the integrity of Timor against Japanese aggression and should indicate its readiness to enter into negotiations with Australia both in relation to the inclusion of Portuguese Timor into an Australian defence zone, and also with a view to closer transport, trade and economic relations with Australia. I would like you to approve generally of my reply. If we can get the United Kingdom Government to help us in this matter our future Pacific policy will be greatly aided.

Best wishes.

1 See cablegram EC28 on file AA:A4764, 3. The aide-memoire pointed out that recent Allied military successes, particularly in North Africa, had removed the threat of a German invasion of Spain and Portugal. The U.K. Govt hid therefore approached the Portuguese Govt for permission to use the Azores as a base for Allied planes and ships operating against U-Boats in the Atlantic; in return the U.K. Govt offered a guarantee of the maintenance of Portuguese sovereignty over all Portuguese colonial territories after the war. The Portuguese Govt agreed to grant facilities in the Azores, but requested that (a) Portugal should take part in operations to drive the Japanese out of Timor and (b) the Commonwealth Govt should give, 'if it is considered requisite', a guarantee of Portugal's eastern colonies. The U.K. Govt believed that Portugal was 'particularly sensitive in regard to Timor, in view of developments in and since December, 1941' and urged the Commonwealth Govt to join in the assurances sought by the Portuguese.

[AA:A4764, 3]