The Chargé in Spain (Whitehouse) to the Secretary of State

No. 1416

Sir: With reference to your instruction No. 637 of November 6, 1929, relative to American claims in Morocco, I have the honor to report that I saw Mr. Palacios, the Secretary General, last evening and told him that my Government considered that the Spanish note of August 9, 1929, had departed so far (était tellement eloignée) from the original bases laid down by the exchange of notes of November 7, 1927 and February 11, 1928, and the agreements reached by Mr. Blake with Mr. Pla and General Jordana that there seemed to be little to be gained (ca ne profiterait guere) by answering it.

Mr. Palacios said that in that case there was nothing to be done but to let the matter drop, but that he did not see the reason for our not answering the Spanish note.

I replied that if he wanted an answer, I presumed my Government was quite ready to give him a negative one, but that I would not hide from him that you were very surprised at the tenor of the Foreign Office note of August 9, which was so different from what Mr. Blake’s agreements had led us to expect would be forthcoming, and the only thing to do would seem to be to reopen the conversations on the old basis.

Mr. Palacios then asked the date of the note in question and when I told him, said he was away on leave at the time, and was not familiar with the details, and he then inquired if I could tell him of any particular points in the note, to which we took exception.

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I told him I certainly could tell him one, and that was the absolute repudiation of our principal claim, the Kittany one, which had been accepted practically without discussion by Mr. Cortes, Mr. Pla, and General Jordana.

Mr. Palacios made no further remark, and I got up to go, saying that if he wished to see me after looking into the matter, I was entirely at his disposal.

Mr. Palacios seemed annoyed at the idea of our not answering their note, and I regret if I was more explicit in my statement than your instructions warranted. However, my explanation leaves the matter quite open for the new Ambassador to send a reply if the Department so desires.

There is one point to which I should like to invite your attention and to which I referred in my despatch No. 1163 of February 28th last, namely, Mr. Saavedra’s statement to me in November 1928 that there was a difference of opinion between the Ministry of War and the High Commissioner in regard to the Kittany claim. The repudiation of this claim is therefore due to the Ministry, and it would seem unlikely that any change in their opinion could be brought about by negotiating anywhere except in Madrid.

My conversation with Mr. Palacios also confirms the opinion expressed in Mr. Hammond’s despatch No. 1374 of October 1, 1929,40 relative to the signature of the note of August 9, 1929, by Mr. Pla.

My impression is that unless the shoe pinches somewhere, the Spanish Government will allow the question to slumber, as it never shows any anxiety to settle claims against it.

In view of the imminent arrival of the new Ambassador, I shall leave it to Mr. Laughlin to suggest any further course of action to the Department.

I have [etc.]

Sheldon Whitehouse
  1. Not printed.