Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)
The British Chargé d’Affaires called to see me this morning.
Mr. Butler first referred again to the situation in Spain. He read to me two telegrams which had been sent by the British Chargé d’Affaires in Madrid to the British Ambassador, Sir Samuel Hoare, now in Lisbon, stating, first, that there was a strong movement in the Spanish Army against Señor Serrano Suñer and the policies which he is advocating which threaten the involvement of Spain in the war, and, second, that the Minister of Commerce had stated that the Spanish Government could not make a public statement of neutrality in opposition to the Axis powers as compensation for food supplies from the United States. The British Chargé d’Affaires in Madrid further stated that the Germans had offered to send to Spain 450 tons of wheat and insisted that the Spanish Government might be forced into the arms of Germany unless food supplies were speedily sent from the United States.
Mr. Butler then read to me an instruction from his own Foreign Office urging that this question again be brought to the attention of the Government of the United States and emphasizing the belief of the British Government that the possible control by Germany of Iberian ports and of the Iberian Islands in the Atlantic would be so prejudicial to the interests of the United States as to make it desirable for the United States to give favorable consideration to the reiterated request of the British Government that the United States withdraw from the position it had taken by demanding some public statement of policy from the Spanish Government prior to the dispatch of food supplies for the civilian population in Spain and to the consideration of credits for food and other raw materials.
I told Mr. Butler that I would lay his representations before the President. I said, however, that the policy adopted by this Government, as he already knew, has been taken after very full consideration and that I doubted if there would be any action taken here until Ambassador Weddell had been afforded the opportunity, already requested, of discussing the whole issue personally with General Franco.