740.00116 E.W./9–2944: Telegram

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

3286. At my meeting with Lequerica yesterday morning, I again urged that his Government make some unequivocal statement of policy regarding the reception of fugitive Axis leaders whom we regard as war criminals. The Minister stated that he had discussed the question with Franco and that he could state that there is no present disposition to make any public statement beyond that already made by Cardenas. He added, however, that the Government has a definite policy, even though no overtures have yet been received from any Axis leader seeking asylum in Spain or are expected. As a neutral, Spain will abide strictly by the usages and precepts of International Law. Whereas the concept of war criminals is new and Spain has [Page 1433] no means of determining who are war criminals under International Law, Lequerica believed that the principle will have been clarified or established before occasion arises for its application. Then if the Allied powers were formally to adjudge a given person to be a war criminal and that person should seek refuge in Spain, the Spanish Government would interpose no obstacle to delivering him to justice outside of Spain.