852.00/6–245: Telegram

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

1202. General Franco gave a dinner for us at the Pardo last night. It was the first opportunity I had had to see him since presenting my credentials on March 24, and I took advantage in a short conversation to stress again our Govt’s viewpoint.

I expressed my disappointment at what I felt to be the lack of any real progress in the evolution of the regime in the 2 months since our last talk. Franco pointed to certain steps taken, freedom from censorship of Foreign press correspondents, the bill of rights now before the Cortes, proposed municipal elections, etc. as evidence of a gradual change. I said that while the two latter matters cited might have some significance internally—although I felt that their importance depended in large measure on how they were applied—so long as the Falange continued to occupy its present position in the structure of the Govt and the totalitarian aspect of the regime remained unchanged, he could not expect any improvement in our relations. I said that I felt the important thing was that they should get started as soon as possible along the right road even though attainment of the ultimate goal might not be immediately realized. Time was passing, the San Francisco Conference was nearing its end and where would Spain be in the new world organization that would emerge? Franco fell back on his usual arguments stressing the Communist menace to Europe including Spain. He admitted that the danger of a clash between the Western Allies and Russia might have been exaggerated, particularly in their own press (plans for relaxation in the press control are now he said under way). He thought it not unlikely that we would be able to work out many of our pending problems with the Russians although he was pessimistic of a favorable solution on the Polish question. But he emphasized that Spain was the particular target for Communist propaganda and that France was playing Russia’s game. The combined Soviet French attacks, he said, made it necessary for them in accomplishing their evolution not unduly to weaken the central authority.

Franco said that he sincerely desired the closest relations with the United States and Great Brit and he could not believe that with the many grave problems that confronted us in Europe we would not be disposed to show a sympathetic understanding of Spain’s difficulties, having in mind the nearness of their own civil war and therefore give them time to work out their problems in their own way, which he felt sure they would be able to do.

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I said we considered this to be an internal problem for Spain: That as he knew it was not our policy to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries but he must realize that until they at least made a real start in bringing this regime more into line with the new world currents he could not expect relations on the basis that we would like to have them.

The FonMin who was present at the dinner did not take part in the conversation which was entirely informal as the party was breaking up.