852.75 National Telephone Co./348: Telegram

The Ambassador in Spain (Weddell) to the Secretary of State

90. My telegram No. 89, April 20, noon.78 During the last 3 days I have had a number of unsolicited interviews with a Spanish lawyer favorably known to the Embassy who at first asserted that he was acting on behalf of Gamero del Castillo, Ministry [Minister] without Portfolio, who he later stated was in turn representing Serrano Suñer absent in Valencia since Saturday.79 On each visit he insistently urged me to postpone on some plausible pretext my interview with General Franco fixed for tomorrow. On each occasion I stated that I was acting in accordance with definite instructions of my Government and these I intended to carry out. On a final visit today my informant stated that Serrano Suñer had had a complete change of heart with regard to the telephone company case but that in view of his absence Suñer had as yet been unable to communicate these revised views to General Franco and that under these circumstances and until he could reorient the Caudillo with regard to this changed viewpoint he feared my interview could only result in a failure which might further prejudice good relations between our two countries.

In view of the fact that these overtures came indirectly; that Serrano Suñer had had more than sufficient time to communicate his changed views to the Caudillo; that any proposals that Serrano might have for a postponement of the interview could easily have been made known to the Caudillo and finally in view of the fact that the record of the case is not conducive to excessive faith or confidence in the Minister of Gobernación I again insisted that I would avail myself of the opportunity to present to General Franco in person my Government’s views as set forth in the aide-mémoire which I had been instructed to hand him.

This afternoon I called on the Foreign Minister at his request. He told me that his object in inviting me to visit him was to remove a misinterpretation; that of course my right to see the Caudillo was unquestioned but that Franco was reluctant to grant an interview when it could be interpreted as an indication that relations between our two countries were unsatisfactory. He assured me that the telephone company case could now be considered settled in principle and that as proof of this the annual stockholders’ meeting of the telephone company (which it will be recalled was postponed at the instigation of Suñer) would be authorized for a date which would be communicated to me following the next meeting of the Cabinet Council set for [Page 876]Thursday or Friday next. In view of this the Minister added that I of course would be able to have a separate friendly conversation with General Franco (indicating quite plainly that he hoped that the matter of the telephone company would be left strictly alone during this conversation). I pointed out in reply that I had definite instructions to hand to Franco the memorandum with which he was already familiar, and that this I proposed to do; further I hoped the conversation would present an opportunity to settle once for all the basic question of principle which had created such a difficult phase in the relations between the two countries. I also took occasion to mention the matter of the personnel of the telephone company as subsidiary but of considerable importance and stated that I expected that as a soldier he would agree that the accused persons in the company should be given a fair trial and that opportunity should be granted to present their defense. In the meantime following his suggestion (see my 66, April 9, 6 p.m.) I expected shortly to send a note commenting on the charges which I have now received. He assured me that these comments would be carefully considered, at the same time hinting at Spain’s sovereign rights concerning the evidence of aliens.

Weddell
  1. Not printed.
  2. April 20.