Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Stettinius)

The Spanish Ambassador called this afternoon at his request. He commenced the conversation by saying that the Spanish people were hurt—that their national dignity had been offended as a result of our recent action. He emphasized that his government wanted to be friendly but if they agreed at once with all our requests it would make a bad impression and appear as if they were acting under pressure. He stated he had just heard from his government that finding solutions to the various problems was far advanced and almost all of our requests were being granted. However, he felt that a total embargo on wolfram was impossible.

The Ambassador said he had been advised by his government that they thought the British Ambassador and American Ambassador were favorably inclined to permit as much wolfram to be exported to Germany in 1944 as was exported in 1943. I immediately stated that I was sure there was a misunderstanding on this point and that he must understand once and for all that we would remain firm in our position that all wolfram exports would have to cease.

The Ambassador then asked that if our demands were fully met would it be possible for our government to make a statement easing their position—something along the line of stating that our February action on petroleum was temporary only and that shipments would resume in March and that the February action was not designed to force them into a position that they were not already willing to take.

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At this point in the conversation I digressed and volunteered the statement that there had been no Soviet pressure brought against the United States Government in connection with Spanish relations.

The Ambassador then stated that his government was prepared to exert “maximum severity” against saboteurs and that they had proved conclusively that the action of enemy saboteurs was of communistic nature.

The Ambassador emphasized that all wolfram exports had been stopped during these negotiations and that no time limit had been set.

The Ambassador added that his government was ready to do everything to maintain its strict neutrality, but he wanted us to know that, as far as the United States was concerned, it was a friendly neutrality.

The Ambassador finally asked what formula we had in mind for them as the next step, and I replied that we felt it was up to them to work out a formula that would most satisfactorily meet the circumstances with which they were faced.

The Ambassador, on leaving, asked that when I wished to see him again he would appreciate my calling him early in the morning so he could come to my home or office, as it was embarrassing for him to see the press. This was rather strange as he had asked for the appointment this afternoon at the State Department.

E[dward] S[tettinius]