852.75 National Telephone Co./376: Telegram
The Ambassador in Spain (Weddell) to the Secretary of State
[Received 9:50 p.m.]
437. My 432, August 3, 8 p.m. I called on the Foreign Minister this morning with the intention of asking him when the Caudillo would receive me. He met me at the door saying he was delighted to see me as he wished to inform me that within 6 days the annual meeting of the telephone company stockholders would be held and further that his Government would loyally carry out its pledges to place the affairs of the telephone company in the status quo of 1936.
I said that holding this meeting would be but the first step in bringing about a satisfactory solution. The Minister asked what were the others. I replied that the other necessary steps were, (1) for the majority stockholders to elect a new board of directors, (2) to secure their warranted approval by the Government and permission for them at once to enter upon their duties, (3) to ensure that the Government delegates would henceforth abide by the contract between the Government and the company and, (4) generally to let the owners control and direct the affairs of the company.[Page 894]
The Minister said he was not familiar with all of the details of the matter but repeated his former assurances and emphasized that if there was any hitch or delay he and I could promptly work out an adjustment. I said that no arrangement could be worked out lacking good will on the part of the Minister of Gobernación whose promises of a righteous solution I had received before the last crop of difficulties had sprung up. The Minister assured me that everything was now set for a satisfactory adjustment and what with his insistent requests that I come immediately to discuss with him any further delays or difficulties he may have I took occasion here to remark that it seemed not to be recognized by certain members of the Spanish Government that the good faith of the Caudillo himself was in question and that I thought that this had not been fully grasped in considering the entire telephone company case.
He assured me that I was in error in believing that there was any real problem with regard to the company saying that Suñer did not think of things in their international political aspects.
I referred here to my request for an interview with the Caudillo and the Minister remarked that Franco had been loath to see me while the telephone matter was hanging fire. I observed that my object in requesting the interview was to clear up that very difficulty but that if, as he said, the matter was on the way to settlement I had no wish to take up the Caudillo’s or my own time in discussion.
I added that I did wish to emphasize one point which was that in Washington an Ambassador who wished to see the President could obtain an interview through the Secretary of State without the intervention or blocking of his request by another member of the Government. He asked me to explain myself. I said that I regretted to have to say it but that Serrano Suñer did not wish me to see the Caudillo. The Minister assured me that I was mistaken and reiterated his remarks about Suñer’s interior viewpoint.
The Minister then showed me a telegram from the Spanish Ambassador in London the substance of which was that an American press association was sending out a story concerning cotton necessary for Catalan mills and which in certain circles it was feared might go to Italy.
The Ambassador commented that this seemed to be a similar muddying of the waters as occurred in the case of gasoline needed by Spain.
The Minister then gave a monologue on the subject of Spain’s miserable international position pointing out that Spain was in no position to enter a war, that the recent protocol with Portugal made a unit of the Iberian peninsula and that his Government’s concern today was that no one—French, English, Japanese, German or Italian—should touch French Morocco.[Page 895]
Past experiences since the declaration by the Spanish Government concerning the Telephone Company case would lead me to expect some further obstacles or difficulties but unless otherwise instructed by the Department I feel that the Embassy should delay further action in the matter pending the fulfilment or otherwise of the assurances given me today.