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Historical documents

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

[AA:A4764, 3]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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