File No. 852.6362/1

The Ambassador in Spain ( Willard) to the Secretary of State


788. Minister for Foreign Affairs has asked that the United States Government grant to Spain a credit of 500,000 tons coal to be drawn upon from time to time during the next six months (he will however be glad to accept much smaller credit). I responded that I [Page 1207] could submit such request only upon following conditions to apply to each separate permit for coal:

That the United States’ needs be supplied;
That our co-belligerents’ needs be supplied;
That the present favorable attitude of Spain to our cobelligerents continue, especially concerning the shipment of iron ore to England;
That any such undertaking shall be agreeable to our cobelligerents, Great Britain;
That before any permit for the exportation of such coal be granted, said permit shall be submitted by telegraph and approved by this Embassy in order to prevent possibility of such coal reaching the hands of parties, Spaniards or others, engaged directly or indirectly in rendering assistance to our enemies.

Minister of State added that he is informed Trasatlántica steamers between New York and Spanish ports are encountering difficulty in securing bunker coal for return voyages, as well as cargoes; that Spanish Ambassador in Washington has been instructed to make representations to the Department and requested the Embassy to support them. I responded that rumors, though unconfirmed, had reached the Embassy that the Trasatlántica Co. was very pro-German and its officers engaged in unneutral acts. He stated that while it was possible that certain officials were pro-German in their sympathies, yet he assured me no officers were violating nor would these be permitted to violate Spanish neutrality. It should be borne in mind that the present Ministry in Spain is distinctly pro-Ally in its attitude as well as its sentiments. I therefore respectfully suggest Department’s prompt and favorable consideration of the above request of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the following grounds:

That such understanding will facilitate interchange of commodities between Spain and England;
That it will generally improve present and future commercial relations between the United States and Spain;
That it will tend to enable the Embassy to secure reciprocal privileges from Spanish Government for exportation of embargoed commodities desired from time to time by our Government and our citizens.