The Ambassador in Spain ( Hayes ) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 15—3 a.m.]
101. In conversation with the Foreign Minister24 this morning, I pointed out that the Vichy regime was no longer entitled in international law to continued recognition by any Government, and the only portion of the French state meeting the test of recognition was that portion voluntarily cooperating with the United Nations in pursuing the war against Germany following the latter’s violation of the Franco-German armistice. I said that, despite the foregoing, my Government was not now suggesting that Spain withdraw recognition of the Vichy regime but that my Government did consider that continued recognition of that regime, as perfunctory as it might be, should not deter Spain from having at least informal relations [Page 734] with that portion of the French state which is, in fact, entitled to recognition. I reminded the Minister that Colonel Malaise was acting as liaison between this Embassy and the High Commission in North Africa, and that Monsieur Pettit25 was negotiating a possible economic exchange between Spain and North Africa (my January 6, midnight26). I said I was informed that Pietri27 had protested against the facilities being given by the Spanish authorities to these representatives of the North African regime, despite the fact that they are more entitled to receive facilities than is Pietri himself.
I requested assurance that at such time as the High Commission in North Africa or such other regime as might be constituted to administer that area, should appoint an agent, whether Colonel Malaise or some other person, the Spanish authorities, including officials of the Foreign Office, would treat [with] such an agent. I suggested that such agent should have the right to (1) issue passports, (2) circulate freely in Spain in the same manner as other foreign representatives, and (3) visit the concentration camp at Miranda de Ebro and the Spanish prisons in order to interview and assist persons if [of] French nationality professing loyalty to the regime he represents. Meanwhile I requested assurances that Malaise and Pettit would not be disturbed in their present duties.
The Minister said he was informed concerning Malaise’s status and perfectly agreeable to it, and that Malaise would not be disturbed. He said that Pettit was negotiating with the Foreign Office with his approval, that Spain is interested in pursuing negotiations and wanted them to take place in Madrid and be coordinated with our own economic negotiations.28 The question of receiving an agent who might have the right to issue passports, et cetera, presented a problem which he would have to study. He expressed appreciation that I had not insisted on Spain’s withdrawing recognition of the Vichy regime, because such action would embarrass Spain’s relations with the Axis.
I then told him I had been informed that Pietri had suggested the establishment of a Vichy Consulate at Ceuta (Department’s No. 32, January 7, 4 a.m.), and said the fact that Vichy representation in Spain is at all tolerated furnished no reason, in international law or equity, for permitting the regime to extend its representation in Spanish territory. I pointed out further the possible disturbing effect on the Moors in North Africa, if both North African and Vichy regimes were represented by consuls pursuing opposing policies in North Africa. He said he quite appreciated the latter point and would take the matter under advisement.[Page 735]
I left an aide-mémoire with the Foreign Minister. Our conversation was very friendly and he evidenced a sincere desire to arrive at a working basis for relations with the French North African regime.
Repeated to Tangier and Algiers.