852.75 National Telephone Co./273: Telegram
The Ambassador in Spain (Weddell) to the Secretary of State
[Received June 23—9:34 a.m.]
87. Department’s unnumbered mail instruction of June 2d and telegraphic instruction No. 383 May 29, 2 p.m. In conversation today in Burgos with Minister of Foreign Affairs I brought out the arguments and statements contained in the above instructions emphasizing the seeming lack of frankness on the part of the Spanish Government. I remarked that Spain could hardly be afraid of an individual of Behn’s merited position in the financial world even though bearing a military title, and emphasized the intention of our Government to uphold legal rights of Americans in Spain as in the past. To his remark that Behn “had not been to see them” during the war I observed that he was not a Spanish citizen and that as far as I could learn his entire neutrality in the recent conflict had been correct. I also called attention to the inconsistent attitude of the Spanish Government in excluding an American citizen while pressing for cotton credits.
The Minister interrupted me here to begin a monologue on how vital it was to Spain to have this cotton in order to start spindles in Catalonia.
To this I observed that while there was no apparent relation between the two subjects yet one could sharply react on the other as was apparent in this case. To this he seemed to assent.
I then urged on the Minister to have his Government clarify its position regarding the Telephone Company and what it would do about Behn, and asked him if he would not give me a statement that I might be fully informed. He replied that he would do this in a few days (en estos dias) but a little later rather qualified his promise by saying that naturally this memorandum would be “in the language of diplomacy”.[Page 835]
In conclusion the Minister said that he was hopeful of favorable action on the Behn case “adjusted” but could say nothing definite now. I remarked that Behn had already been waiting permission since March, and that the whole subject was “inexplicable” to me and to my Government.
In our conversation the Minister showed a distinctly reserved attitude and either because [became?] mute or else endeavored to initiate a new subject when pressed especially when I endeavored unsuccessfully to extract from him the reason for Behn’s exclusion. (From various colleagues I learn that this evasive attitude is the one usually resorted to by this official.)