711.52/7–3145: Telegram

No. 1178
The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State

top secret

168. Mr. Hull called us on the telephone this morning and discussed at some length the Spanish situation. He is a little apprehensive lest the new government in the United Kingdom may suddenly announce a new policy in regard to Spain in such a way that it may indicate that the Labor Government is setting out on a course sharply divergent from that followed by the Churchill Government and by the United States Government.

[Page 1174]

Mr. Hull pointed out that while the policy followed by the two countries in regard to Spain during the war was a joint one, it had usually been the British Government which had argued for more liberal treatment of Spain than the American Government would have been disposed to accord. He added that the British had in most cases, it was true, been able to buttress their case with sound military arguments. In particular he referred to the period in 1942 when all of us were afraid that Spain might enter the war on the side of the Axis and with German and Italian help attack Gibraltar.

Mr. Hull said that what he was really afraid of was that the new British Government might take sudden action which would place our Government in a false position vis-à-vis public opinion. We told him about President Roosevelt’s letter of last March to Ambassador Armour 1 and referred to the active support which the United States gave to the Mexican resolution at San Francisco aimed at preventing Spain’s joining the United Nations Organization.2 Mr. Hull inquired whether it might not be desirable for us to look into the question of “tightening up” on Spain by unilateral action before the British Government undertakes some action, possibly unilateral, in regard to Spain. We told him that we understood that Spain had been discussed at your present meeting but that we had no details in regard to the discussion or any decision that might have been reached.

Mr. Hull suggested that I send you this telegram giving you the substance of our talk with him for your consideration in the light of any discussions that may have taken place at Potsdam. He says that it may very well be that there is no action which the United States Government should take at this time but that he is keenly desirous of avoiding a situation in which we might be placed in a false position.

We have given some consideration here to the possible publication of President Roosevelt’s letter to Ambassador Armour, but we had decided not to raise this question with you until after your return. I shall be glad to have the benefit of your views and any instructions you may wish to give me on the points raised by Mr. Hull.

[ Grew ]