811.248/2–745: Telegram

The Chargé in Spain (Butterworth) to the Secretary of State

278. For Culbertson and Hickerson. In making the proposal contained in my 276 February 6, 9 p.m. the Spaniards stated they fully understood that ATC operation in question would have military aspects and that they had no objections to collaborating but could not make an outright written commitment which would in the first place put them on record as allowing an ostensible subrogation of sovereignty and secondly of openly participating in breaches of neutrality. A third factor involved was the necessity of providing authority for a unique operation which would cut across numerous internal laws and regulations and the jurisdictions of several Ministries.

The proposal they have now presented constitutes a formula which they feel will in effect enable ATC to satisfy its requirements and will at the same time cover the above mentioned factors. The Spaniards pointed out that although the wording of their proposal is somewhat obscure on some points, the full collaborating intent is not affected and that the device of a regulating committee of special delegates stipulated in article IX constitutes the core of the proposal since this Commission will be able to issue orders overriding the procedure and limitations of individual Ministries. Moreover, the Spaniards intend to have these proposals (if accepted by us) incorporated in a protocol to [Page 726] our existing air agreement to give the matter some outward semblance of plausible legitimacy. The protocol will not be published. To increase the veneer of legal respectability Spanish article I refers to the operation within this country as being “ATCCS” with the implication that the two last letters of this anagram signify “civil services”.

A further fiction for seeming alignment of the protocol with existing legal procedure is that of article VIII providing for special visa procedure in case of American officials (including military personnel) in transit. The procedure would consist of furnishing some rough form of manifest of such passengers under Embassy or other American Governmental seal with the understanding that aliases could be used if necessary and that there will be no inspection. Cargo in transit need not be manifested or inspected under this article. Foreigners and American commercial passengers in transit as well as all passengers stopping at Madrid would have to comply with regular Spanish visa regulations.

Article 6 would be interpreted liberally in that civilian coats or jackets could be used to cover uniforms during the stop at Madrid and a supply of these could be kept on hand for that purpose.

Under article 3 the installations required by ATC would be constructed or erected in collaboration with and for account of Spanish Air Ministry and would be under its general jurisdiction though set aside for ATC and, so far as confidential matter is concerned, restricted to handling entirely by ATC personnel within this face-saving structure. Similarly under article 4 a Confidential Section would be created within the Meteorological and Communications Services to cover American personnel and its operations.

Presumably most of the basic arrangements could be established by the Commission mentioned in article 9 within 60 days and thereafter Commission would probably have only minor matters to deal with. The Commission would settle payment terms on which installations would be set up for Air Ministry. It would appear that Americans appointed to Commission (the Spaniards have suggested three delegates from each side) in beginning should be of especially high calibre who would gain confidence of Spaniards and we particularly recommend Stanton of CAA as a member during opening stage.

The Spanish proposal is unusually liberal according to all local standards and certainly in advance of any concessions made during this war to other nationalities including Axis. Spaniards were undoubtedly moved to make such a liberal proposal at least partially under the influence of George’s references to the opportunity afforded them to collaborate with us in the rehabilitation of Europe, and of having Madrid airport improved as well as of becoming closely associated with us in international aviation matters.

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The Sub-Secretary of Foreign Affairs83 who has been in direct charge of negotiations has indicated he would appreciate being informed of Washington’s reaction by February 10 in order that he may decide upon vacation he intended to take. Since George and Payne emphasized the importance of speed in pressing negotiations with Spaniards while here I hope Department will send Embassy some reply by 10th to convey to Sub-Secretary.

Repeated to Lisbon as 17.

  1. Cristóbal del Castillo y Campos.