File No. 652.119/266

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

[Telegram]

899. I called yesterday President of the Council and Minister of State. He promptly asked that I recommend to my Government its release of certain oils purchased in the United States by Spanish importers stating that Spain greatly needed them. I replied that while my Government was most anxious to supply Spain with such commodities as she might need and thereby continue and extend the cordial commercial relations already existing yet there was great need on our own part and on the part of our co-belligerents of certain of these commodities, especially cotton, coal and oil, and that it might be necessary in the near future to curtail, if not prohibit, such exportations. I told him that the fact that our many applications for permits to export cotton thread, waste and other articles from Spain to the United States, to which you had been unable to secure any replies from the Spanish Government, was not conducive in my judgment to the best advantage securing of such permits as he desired. I begged him to permit me to say unofficially and in the most friendly spirit that the apparent attitude of the Spanish Government in connection with activities of German and other enemy subjects in Spain and the unrestricted submarine activities in the immediate vicinity, if not in Spanish waters, had not produced a good impression in my country, and that in this connection I should be very glad to learn from him as soon as possible, for transmission by cable to my Government, the attitude of the Spanish Government in respect to the representations of the Allied Embassies and ourselves concerning the interning of the crews of all German merchant vessels now in Spanish waters. I concluded by assuring him that I was at all times anxious to cooperate with him in establishing and furthering the most cordial relations commercially and otherwise between the United States and Spain.

In the absence of instructions to the contrary I shall reiterate my above statement to His Majesty with whom I have asked an audience when I see him and shall add that my Government has determined to use to fullest extent its entire economic strength in the prosecution of this war to a successful conclusion; a war which it sought earnestly to avoid and into which it has now entered without ambition to secure territorial, political or other gain.

Willard