851.00/5–2645: Telegram

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

1146. My 1090, May 19, 6 p.m. Pursuant to instructions from London the Brit[ish] Chargé d’Affaires called on the Foreign Minister yesterday to reassert the attitude of his Govt to the effect that the Laval affair is a matter to be settled beween the French and Spanish Govts and one in which the Brit Govt does not choose to permit itself to become involved and that Laval should therefore be turned over directly to the French authorities without further delay as an undesirable alien being deported to the country of his origin. Invoking the familiar arguments with which he has on previous occasions countered similar proposals Lequeriea reiterated the view of the Spanish Govt that such a solution is completely unacceptable and out of the question.

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The ForMin speaking personally and informally then advanced the suggestion that arrangements might be made to return Laval to the point of his original departure (understood to have been Bolzano) to be turned over to whatever Allied authorities might be in control at that point in reply to which Bowker expressed the opinion that if such a course were to be followed he should be returned in a Spanish plane or if in his own plane at least with a Spanish crew. (A suggestion to this effect had in fact been advanced by the French Govt in its telegram of May 22 to the French Minister in Madrid and, according to the latter, mentioned by the BBC65 and Bowker had planned to propose it of his own accord as an alternative solution.) After a brief discussion the Foreign Minister stated that he would give this suggestion his continuing consideration.

The French Minister states that he does not wish to call on Lequerica until he has received from his Govt a denial of certain damaging statements recently made by the BBC concerning assurances alleged to have been given Spanish republican leaders in the United States by Bidault but that he hopes to be able to see him early next week at which time he will, in consonance with instructions contained in his Govt’s tel of May 22, pursue the suggestion that Laval be returned by the Spanish to the point from which he originally departed for Spain.

Pending the receipt of instructions requested in my reference telegram, I plan to make no further mention of the Laval affair in my conversations with the Foreign Minister.

Repeated to Paris as 259, London as 336, and Rome.

  1. British Broadcasting Corporation.