852.2221/1463: Telegram

The Ambassador in Spain ( Bowers ), Then in France, to the Secretary of State

576. Your B–477, February 8, 7 p.m. The Ambassador’s statement seems incredible. For months I have acted as intermediary in the exchange of prisoners and dealt with the Government through the Foreign Minister72 and Giral73 in charge of that work. Months ago Del Vayo assured me they would gladly exchange Italian Legionnaires [Page 801] for the Americans. Some as you know were thus exchanged. Del Vayo assured me the Government was ready to continue this process.

Negotiations were begun some weeks ago with Marquis de Rialp, the Franco Commissioner, since in the light of Del Vayo’s positive assurances I assumed that our problem was with the Franco people exclusively. When the matter first was broached, De Rialp expressed complete willingness provided the Italians had not made other arrangements about their men. When the Italian Ambassador wrote me he was urging our exchange I informed De Rialp that I knew this to be true. He promised to act. After many days he came here and said he had been so swamped he had not yet taken the matter up but would at once. Since then I have reminded him and asked a report. Have been expecting to see him any minute.

Under these circumstances I am at a loss to learn from the Ambassador that we are expecting to negotiate with his Government on something on which there has been an agreement for months. Suggest you call De los Rios and frankly tell him of my report and request an explanation.

Bowers
  1. Julio Alvarez del Vayo.
  2. Spanish Minister without Portfolio.