Sir Walford Selby, U.K. Ambassador to Portugal, to Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram unnumbered LISBON, 29 September 1939, 7.34 p.m.

After lengthy negotiations with representatives of Oil Search Ltd, Minister of Colonies [1] has informed the Commercial Secretary [2] that he is prepared to grant concession for area lying either east or west meridian 126. Minister maintained that Wittouck [3] has moral rights which he cannot disregard and affirms that if Wittouck is indemnified he will grant whole area to Oil Search.

Minister appears adamant on the question of Wittouck’s ‘moral rights’.

I have also pressed Minister of Colonies personally, but in vain.

Minister seems to be under an obligation to the Belgian Government, whose representative here has throughout vigorously supported Wittouck’s claim. Please inform me as a last resource [sic] whether you are prepared to accept either area.


1 Dr F.J.V. Machado.

2 A.H.W. King.

3 Serge F. Wittouck, Managing Director of the Asia Investment Company.


[AA:A981, TIMOR (PORTUGUESE) 22, iv]